Upshaw Tackles Tough Questions

Courtney Upshaw doesn't back down from the best offensive players in the nation, so it wasn't likely he was going to be cowed when questioned about the presence of Alabama in the national championship game.



Alabama is 11-1 on the season with one loss -- in overtime -- to the nation's number one team, LSU. The Bengal Tigers are 13-0 and were unanimously selected number one at the end of regular season play. The difference in the two was that after four quarters the game was tied and LSU won it with a field goal in overtime, 9-6.

In four-plus quarters of play, LSU had 239 yards against Alabama. Courtney Upshaw, Bama's 6-2, 265-pound jack linebacker, did his part for the Crimson Tide. Upshaw was in our six tackles, three solo, and had a sack and two quarterback pressures.

On Monday night, LSU and Alabama will meet in the Louisiana Superdome for the BCS National Championship. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. CST with television coverage by ESPN.

LSU and Alabama have been universally acknowledged as the nation's two best teams, which is why all polls -- the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll that are used in BCS calculations and the Associated Press poll -- had them ranked one and two. The mandate of the BCS is to match the top two teams in the national championship game.

That hasn't put the controversy to rest with some, and Upshaw was confronted with some issues when coaches and players from both teams participated in media day at the Superdome Friday.

One reporter asked Upshaw if the Crimson Tide felt disrespected because of the argument that Alabama had its chance against LSU and so another team, such as Oklahoma State, should be in the game.

The senior from Eufaula said, "I feel everybody does deserve a chance. They (Oklahoma State) had an outstanding record this season and I watched them play in the bowl game (the Cowboys beat Stanford, 41-38, in overtime in the Fiesta Bowl). But people vote. They voted us into this game. That's my take on the whole thing."

Alabama leads the nation in every major defensive category. Upshaw was asked if he thought the Crimson Tide defense could handle one of the nation's high-powered offensive teams. "I'm sure," he said. "I've got a bunch of faith in my team. I'm sure that anybody we play against we'll give them a good game on defense and offense.

"It's fun watching games like that, fun watching all the scoring. But being a defensive player, you want to see a lot more defense."

Upshaw said he feels Alabama "does deserve to be at the top with LSU. We're a good team. We lost to LSU by three points in overtime in a defensive battle. And the people voted us into this game. It's on us to go out and prove to them they were right for putting us in the game."

Upshaw said the players are anxious for the game to kick off. "It's the practices that have been weighing on us," he said. "But that's Coach Saban -- time and preparation. He's going to have us ready for the game."

In the first meeting, Alabama was prepared for Jarrett Lee, who was the LSU quarterback until that game. After the Crimson Tide intercepted two Lee passes, he was shelved in favor of Jordan Jefferson, an athletic quarterback who can run and pass. Upshaw said that LSU with Jefferson at quarterback means "that we have got to execute with the defense that was called and have people in the right spots. He's a good back. He made plays himself on the option. It's on us to go out and execute."

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