Stuart McNair

Five Alabama Offensive Players to Watch vs. LSU on Saturday night

Tiger Blitz breaks down five Alabama offensive players to watch against LSU on Saturday night.

Tight End O.J. Howard

A matchup nightmare for most teams, but still under utilized by the Alabama offense. Bad news for LSU is the 6-6, 250-pound tight end is coming off his best game of the season. Against Texas A&M, Howard caught six balls for 69 yards and a touchdown. In the national championship game against Clemson, Howard reeled in five balls for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Howard can move like a wide receiver and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin loves to find matchups Howard can take advantage of against defenses. LSU was able to limit Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram to just 15 yards in the Tigers win over the Rebels. A similar stat line for Howard could make Alabama look to Ridley even more so than the Tide want to in this one.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts

LSU's players this week said quarterback Jalen Hurts is like a running back playing quarterback. The true freshman at quarterback for the Tide is a dual-threat and operates an Alabama offense that incorporates the spread concepts, but with a lot of zone-read and even veer tendencies. Hurts entered for Alabama in the opener against USC and hasn't relinquished his control on the starting job. There's still some developing to be done on his downfield passing game, but overall, Hurts has made this Alabama offense hum this season. The last two games, Hurts has thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions while completing over 61 percent of his passes. Can LSU's secondary force Hurts into some of those same mistakes?

Stuart McNair

Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley

One of the most explosive players in college football is Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley and the Tide look to get the ball in his hands in numerous ways. Whether it's a jet sweep, bubble screen or your run of the mill crossing routes and deep routes, Alabama will try to get Ridley involved. Ridley is just the latest receiver for the Tide to churn out with high NFL aspirations and will likely draw a matchup with Tre'Davious White or Donte Jackson from LSU's side of things. With the two shadowing Ridley, LSU will have a chance at shutting down Ridley. After all, White is the toughest defensive back in college football to throw at. Will that trend continue?

Photo by Danny Parker

Offensive Tackle Cameron Robinson

LSU defensive lineman Arden Key said against Ole Miss that Laremy Tunsil wasn't lining up against him. This week though, Key will have a tougher time getting the 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack against Robinson. Robinson has been a Day 1 starter for Alabama and figures to be one of the top players taken in the NFL Draft this spring. Robinson's strong hands and footwork have impressed LSU defenders on film and Key's quickness will be what Robinson will have to contend with a lot of the times. If Key can beat Robinson, Hurts will face some serious pressure. 

Stuart McNair

Running Back Damien Harris

Harris had to fill the shoes of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake this season as a feature back. The 5-11, 215-pound back has done that well, averaging about eight yards per carry this season for the Tide. Harris is coming off a 125-yard effort against Texas A&M and in SEC games, has averaged 99 yards per game and on the road, 125 yards per game. LSU's run defense is among the best in the country and like for the Tide, the Tigers will have to tackle just as well and clog holes to stop Harris. A lot of analysts believe the offensive line is Alabama's strongest point for this team, but LSU's defensive line is talented enough to stop Harris. It's a matter of execution. LSU has been working the run all week and if the Tigers shut down Harris and the running game, they'll force Alabama to beat them through the air.

Stuart McNair

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