Alabama vs. Western Carolina Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
Western Carolina (7-4, 5-0 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC)
When: Saturday, Nov. 22 at 3 p.m. CT
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 64 degrees and a low of 56, winds SE at 11 mph, 10 percent chance of rain
TV: SEC Network (Play-by-play: Brent Musburger, color analyst: Jesse Palmer, sideline reporter: Maria Taylor)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart)
Spread: None. It can be expected that the Crimson Tide would be favored, though, extending their streak as a favorite to 65 consecutive games, beginning with the 2009 BCS National Championship Game victory over Texas.
Last Meeting: Alabama was up 42-0 by halftime in its 49-0 victory over Western Carolina in 2012 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Series History: Alabama holds a 3-0 all-time record against the Catamounts with the first two meetings taking place in 2004 (52-0 win) and 2007 (52-6 win).
The Crimson Tide needed a fourth-quarter score to stop the bleeding in a 25-20 win over then-No. 1 Mississippi State last Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
According to Nick Saban, the drive on that fourth-quarter touchdown scored by T.J. Yeldon was one of the “greatest” in Alabama history.
Alabama led 19-0 until a second-half rally by the Bulldogs led them to as close as one score on two separate occasions. The Crimson Tide intercepted Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott three times in the game inside Alabama territory when the Bulldogs were threatening on offense.
Mississippi State outgained Alabama 428-335, posting better numbers through both passing and rushing. It also had 26 first downs to Alabama’s 17 and had possession longer (31:55).
For Alabama, Blake Sims completed 19-of-31 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown, while Amari Cooper caught eight passes for 88 yards and a score.
The Catamounts picked up their seventh win of the season – their most since a five-win season in 2005 – last Saturday in a 42-27 win over VMI.
Troy Mitchell was 32-for-42 passing for 339 yards, a career-high five touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 109 yards, including a 55-yard score, on 12 carries. Karnorris Benson and Tyler Sexton each hauled 127 yards receiving with Benson catching four of Mitchell’s five touchdowns.
After falling behind 21-0 by the 10:18 mark in the second quarter, VMI stormed back cutting it to as close as 28-20 and 35-27 with 5:02 and 12:32 left in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. Mitchell’s rushing touchdown with just under six minutes remaining put the game out of reach for the Keydets.
Western Carolina had 640 total yards of offense and allowed 471 to VMI. The Catamounts also committed 15 penalties for 155 yards, however.
At 7-4, Western Carolina sits in third in the Southern Conference behind Chattanooga (8-3) and Samford (7-3).
Keep an eye on:
Jake Coker, quarterback: Alabama could very well be playing for yet another national championship this season if it takes care of business from here on out, but that doesn’t mean it’s not too early to start looking toward next year already. Blake Sims’ eligibility at quarterback will be up after this season, leaving a void at the position for the second straight offseason. Coker, who was expected by many to start for the Crimson Tide this season, will be the favorite to land the job again next year in what will be his last collegiate season. Partially to help prepare for that starting role next season, Coker will receive plenty of playing time on Saturday against the Catamounts.
ArDarius Stewart, wide receiver: He might already see the field some as he did last week, partially because of nagging injuries limiting DeAndrew White’s availability, but when considering who the opponent is, it’s an almost guarantee. With White and Christion Jones (and likely Amari Cooper) gone next year, Stewart may be showcasing his talents for a starting job, and he should be given ample time to do it.
Troy Mitchell, quarterback: Nick Saban called him a “nice little quarterback” on Monday, and he is correct in his assessment. The 6-foot, 205-pound junior signal caller is a dual threat, ranking second in the Southern Conference in passing yards and touchdowns and second on his team in rushing with 572 yards this season.
Christon Gill, linebacker: Like Mitchell is on offense, Gill is the Catamounts’ best defensive player, racking up the second-most tackles in the SoCon with 101 so far this season. He also 11 tackles for loss, including three sacks, and an interception this season. At the least, Gill should have plenty of opportunities to bolster his tackling statistics on Saturday.
- Running back T.J. Yeldon is questionable for the second straight week with an ankle injury. On Monday, Saban said that Yeldon would be limited in practice this week but made no indication that he wouldn’t play against Western Carolina. Yeldon sprained his ankle late in the fourth quarter at LSU two weeks ago but carried the ball 16 times for 72 yards and a touchdown against Mississippi State.
- Wide receiver DeAndrew White is questionable with a hamstring injury sustained against the Bulldogs last week. Like Yeldon, Saban said that White would also be limited this week in practice. White still played some in the game last week, even after the injury occurred.
- Kicker Adam Griffith is the third player that Saban named on Monday that will be questionable for this Saturday’s game. Griffith has an undisclosed injury that Saban first revealed a month ago. Griffith, who is 12-for-18 on field goal attempts this season, could have JK Scott fill in for his kicking duties if he is unable to play.
- Tight end Brian Vogler (knee) is probable to play with an expected increased number of reps both in practice and in the game this week. Vogler played sparingly against LSU and Mississippi State due to the sprained knee.
Western Carolina has no major injuries to report.