Bowl Report: Scouting The Alabama Defense

SHREVEPORT, La. - The matchup that is considered the marquee for Thursday's PetroSun Independence Bowl is when Oklahoma State's explosive offense has the ball against Alabama's nationally ranked stingy defense. The Cowboys average 35.3 points and a very balanced 409 yards per game, while the Crimson Tide have allowed an average of just 18 points and 287.6 yards per game.

Alabama has climbed to 18th in the nation in defense with seven new starters although they are all seniors and juniors, except for one sophomore and one redshirt freshman.

"Coach (Joe) Kines has been a good leader, and he's been pushing us all year," said defensive end Wallace Gilberry. "It's really our duty as players to give that same effort he has."

Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator Larry Fedora knows Kines well having matched up against him when Fedora was at Florida before coming to Stillwater.

"I have the utmost respect for Joe Kines," said Fedora. "He has been a lot of places and he has always had tremendous defenses. They always play extremely hard for him and watching them on film this Alabama defense is no different. They are aggressive and they come after you."

Kines has thought out loud to the media in the lead up to the bowl game that his defense will be at a disadvantage in that they haven't seen an offense in the SEC quite like the Cowboys. However, one of Kines players sees similarities in an offense that Bama held in check for three quarters before a fourth quarter windfall led to a season-tying worst 28 points allowed in a 28-13 loss.

"They do a lot of different things our of their packages, but the team I would say they are similar to is Florida by the simple fact that they have a great option quarterback, a great running back, and they have a zone offensive line," said Gilberry. "We have to keep it on them, teams like Oklahoma State and Florida you can't give them daylight. Once they get a big play, and they are known for big plays, they will take a big chunk and it's up to us to keep pouring it on them. It's going to be a battle."

Alabama's defense has been a little better at stopping the run than the pass and the Cowboys, if they have to, can use the pass to kickstart the offense like they did in an explosive 42-point second half outburst at Kansas. Standout Bama cornerback Simeon Castille was asked how he describes the Cowboys wide receiver duo of Adarius Bowman and D'Juan Woods.

"Great players. They are big, physical, good hands, can run, everything you want in receivers," said the All-SEC cornerback. "We are definitely going to have to bring our 'A' game."

Castille probably put himself in position to be All-SEC with the work he gets in practice. and having outstanding wide receivers like D.J. Hall and Kenneth Brown should help Bama be prepared for the Cowboys duo of Bowman and Woods.

"Every day in practice in one on ones and pass skell," said Castille. "The only thing that is different about our guys is they are a little slimmer than Oklahoma State's guys but they give us a good look."

Gilberry is hoping to help Castille and company with some of that as he noticed how proficient the Cowboys defense has been with 35 sacks on the season and how the OSU offensive line has allowed only 17 sacks on the season. He sees that as a direct challenge.

"Without a doubt, I've been thinking about that all week, really all month," said Gilberry, who led the Crimson Tide with three sacks and 10.5 tackles for losses. "Like you said Oklahoma State they haven't given up too many of those this year and that is definitely my drive. I've been telling the (Oklahoma State) guys out this week that I'm coming. The trash talking has started already. That's what I do, and it's all in the fun of the game. Of course, I'm going to go out there and run around and give 100 percent at stopping the run game, but I'm going to give 110 percent rushing the passer."

Gilberry should get all the running he wants between chasing Dantrell Savage and Bobby Reid. Remember, chasing is one thing but catching them is something completely different.

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