Upshaw Hopes To Finish With Title

Courtney Upshaw is a great player who has made many great plays. His interception and touchdown return in Gainesville started the rout of Florida. He is an All-America and he finished third in voting for the Butkus Award. So how is he helping his team prepare for the national championship game?

"I see clips every now and then of Coach Smart (Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart) showing the team where I rushed up and got past the quarterback, and he took off on the longest run in the game," Courtney Upshaw said.

That play came in Bama's first meeting against LSU. The Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide, 9-6, in overtime. In that game, LSU started Jarrett Lee at quarterback. Alabama's two interceptions against Lee prompted the Tigers to make a change. Jordan Jefferson has been LSU's quarterback since that game and will be the quarterback for the Tigers when the teams meet in the rematch.

Alabama, 11-1 and ranked second in the nation, will take on LSU, 13-0 and ranked first, in the BCS National Championship Game at the Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 9, a week from Monday.

Upshaw said the key against Jefferson "is to be disciplined."

Upshaw has had an outstanding year for the Tide. He ranks third in tackles with 44 (30 of them primary) and leads the team in tackles for loss (16 for 79 yards); in sacks (7 1/2 for 51 yards; and in quarterback pressures (11). And there is that 45-yard interception return for a touchdown against Florida.

Upshaw, a 6-2, 265-pound senior outside linebacker from Eufaula, said that he is "very excited" to be playing in the national championship game. "To be my second championship game and actually get the chance to start, I'm very excited. And just to be with the guys I came in with in '08; a lot of people say we helped get Alabama back to where it used to be.

"And I'm happy to be a part of the nation's number one defense."

Indeed, and in great part because of the play of Upshaw, Bama has the nation's number one defense, first in rushing defense (giving up 74.9 yards per game), passing defense (116.3 yards), total defense (191.3), scoring defense (8.8 points per game), and pass defense efficiency.

There had been a thought at this time a year ago that Upshaw might forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. He said he does not regret his decision to return. "I've very happy," he said. "I have no regrets. When I made that decision last year, I knew what I wanted to accomplish this season. I feel like I did that and have no disappointments. Hopefully we can finish it off with a championship."

One other goal was to play in the Senior Bowl. He got his invitation for that contest and will play in the game, he said.

A year ago Alabama was finishing its season in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State. Upshaw was the MVP of that game as the Tide trounced the Spartans.

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