FOOTBALL: Around the SEC

<b>Alabama</b> - One of the more interesting games on Saturday will be played in Fayetteville at 3:30 p.m. (CBS) Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) received the first real obstacle in their season when QB Brodie Croyle went down for the year last week. Relieving him will be sophomore transfer from Miami Marc Guillon. Guillon, who played against Western Carolina last week, was 5-of-7 for 71 yards and a TD.<p>

Alabama at Arkansas Shula made it clear he will start at quarterback Saturday. Shula said the biggest hurdle for Guillon to overcome would be the aspect of communication with coaches and with his teammates.

"Communication will be the biggest part," Shula said. "From getting a play from the sidelines, getting in and out of the huddle, making sure he's real, real loud in the huddle and clear. And then Getting up to the line of scrimmage and having enough time up there just to see what's going on in front of him. We did it last week with him in there, but it's going to be a lot tougher on the road. And just kind of getting comfortable with each play."

The Razorbacks (2-1, 0-0 SEC) are looking to open their conference schedule on a winning note. Arkansas, who hasn't allowed a sack all year including against Texas, will look to the strong play of their offensive line to win it for them.

"It's been nice, but there are a lot of factors that go into it," offensive line coach Mike Markuson said. "We have a tremendous amount of speed at wide receiver and (senior quarterback Matt) Jones has the ability to scramble and get us out of some bad plays. He is also very smart with the ball and that helps."

Key Match Ups

Alabama LB Cornelius Wortham (6-1, 233, Sr., Calhoun City, Miss.) Did not play last season due to dislocated elbow suffered in fall drills ... Led Tide in tackles in season opener against Utah State with 5 stops (2 solos) ... Has 177 career tackles, including eight behind the line (-16) ... Starter in 21 career games ... Has five career double digit tackle games.

Arkansas TB DeCori Birmingham (5-11, 200, Sr., Atlanta, Texas) Moved from flanker to tailback during 2003 campaign ... Rushed for 549 yards on 88 carries and 3 TDs last season ... Also had 17 catches for 186 yards and 2 TDs last season ... Has 2,957 career all-purpose yards ... In first collegiate start at tailback, last season vs. Kentucky, rushed for 196 yards and 2 TDs ... Rushed for 127 yards on 14 carries and a TD last week against UL-Monroe.

Mississippi State at LSU

Arguably the most surprising outcome of last week, aside from a better Florida team being robbed in Knoxville, was the SEC's own Mississippi State falling to Maine. Mississippi St.'s (1-2, 0-1 SEC) loss to the Black Bears 9-7 was disheartening to head coach Sylvester Croom.

"I have to put my own embarrassment and my own ego aside and get this team ready to play this week," Croom said. "This is the only game we can do anything about."

Croom stressed this week in practice how he was going to handle the defense of LSU.

"Defensively they're as multiple a defensive team as you'll see, they have an excellent blitz package and it's very difficult when they'll bring it and who will come. There's no pattern to what they do." Croom has also noticed a tendency for LSU to use ‘gadget' plays with the placekicking squad. "So we've got to be alert in every kicking situation. They're just a good football team."

LSU fresh off a 10-9 loss to Auburn is still trying to hammer out their QB situation.

Key Match ups

LSU DE Marcus Spears (6-4, 295, Sr., Baton Rouge, La.) Named on Nagurski, Hendricks and Lombardi pre-season watch lists after being named first-team All-SEC in 2003 ... Had 49 tackles, including 13 behind the line for -72 yards, last season ... Had five tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and a pass deflection against Oregon State ... Has eight tackles in 2004.

MSU OT David Stewart (6-6, 317, Sr., Moulton, Ala.) Has played in 33 games during MSU career, earning 30 starting assignments, including last 27 straight ... Graded out at line-best 79.6 percent, recording 80 percent or higher six times last season ... Played in every offensive snap in seven of 12 games last season.

Louisiana Tech at Tennessee

Good old Rocky Top. The Volunteers square off against the Bulldogs in Neyland in what should be a definite Vol Walk. The Bulldogs and running back Ryan Moats, who almost got 100 yards against Miami, could give a fit to a Tennessee team reeling from the loss of start LB Kevin Simon.

"Moats is one of those guys, if you don't get in front of him and gang tackle, he'll tear you arm off," Fulmer said. "He is a hard running guy. It's the third week in a row we're facing a really good running back."

As far as the pass defense goes, Fulmer seems to be at ease with two of his players in the secondary. However, who will play and play well at the other corner and strong safety is still up in the air.

"I've seen them move around better and the tackling is better," Fulmer said. "Their assignments are improved. We've got to get better. Jason (Allen) is much more comfortable at safety now that he's over there. (Jon) Hefney is a competitive son of a gun. I don't have to worry about either one of those guys. The other positions, we'll see what happens."

Key Match ups

LA Tech RB Ryan Moats (5-9, 201, Jr., Dallas, Texas) First-team All-WAC in 2003 ... Led WAC in rushing (1,300 yards on 199 carries) and third in all-purpose rushing last season ... Has eight career 100+ rushing yardage games, including a career-best 267 yards last season against Hawaii ... In first two games this season, had 257 yards each against Nevada and UL-Lafayette.

UT LB Kevin Burnett (6-3, 235, Sr., Carson, Calif.) Earned 2003 All-SEC second-team honors by league coaches ... Selected as team captain for second straight season ... Completed degree in May 2003 ... Member of 2003 AFCA and SEC Good Works Team ... Registered 90 total tackles (65 solos) with 7.5 TFLs (-35), three pass deflections and a forced fumble last season ... Has 170 career tackles (119 solos) with 17 TFLs, including seven sacks ... Named SEC Defensive Player of the Week last week against Florida with 16 stops (10 solos).

The Citadel at Auburn

Auburn's defeat of LSU catapulted them into the top-10 behind SEC offensive player of the week QB Jason Campbell. The Tigers (3-0, 2-0 SEC) should have problem beating this team at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

This week Auburn was still relishing their win over SEC West rival Louisina State.

"Our linebackers played the best game that I've seen the linebackers as a group play in the last few years," head coach Tommy Tuberville says. "Our speed paid dividends for us in this game, and it's going to have to continue to pay dividends as we go."

Key Match Ups

Citadel DE Michael Ballantine (6-2, 240, Sr., Honea Path, S.C.) Has 130 career tackles (67 solos), including 28.5 for losses (-134 yards) ... Has 16 sacks (-109 yards) and four fumble recoveries ... Last season, had 42 tackles, including 13 for losses and six sacks ... Dean's List student.

Auburn RB Carnell Williams (5-11, 210, Sr., Attalla, Ala.) Unanimous first-team All-SEC choice in 2003 by league's coaches and AP ... Tied Auburn single-season record with 17 rushing TDs last season ... Rushed for 1,307 yards during 2003 season, ranking fifth in Auburn history ... Has rushed for more than 100 yards 13 times and over 150 yards eight times in his career ... SEC Offensive Player of the Week for record 8th time rushing for 122 yards and 2 TDs against Miss. State ... Leads SEC in rushing with 300 yards on 60 carries in 2004.

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