Alabama Football: Key matchups to watch in Tide vs. South Carolina


Alabama football versus South Carolina will have several interesting matchups on Saturday. Check out four key ones and who holds the advantage.

Most of the pre-game sizzle about Saturday’s Alabama football contest with South Carolina involves the quarterbacks. Gamecocks’ fans are pumped about their new guy, true freshman, Ryan Hilinski. Some of them believe the young man is an upgrade over Jake Bentley.

Those fans are also hoping Hilinski has some Stephen Garcia audacity in him. It will be a great stage for Hilinski to showcase his skills. To the extent he does, they will be overshadowed by Tua Tagovailoa.

Tua, given adequate time, will carve up the Carolina secondary. Muschamp has a very good defensive back in Jaycee Horn. There is plenty of size in the South Carolina secondary. Horn, Israel Mukuamu and R.J. Roderick are anywhere from six feet to six-feet-four and all are 200 pounds, plus. Those big bodies will try to muscle the Crimson Tide wide receivers. Quickness, speed and Tua’s accurate arm favor the Tide passing attack over the South Carolina secondary.

It is an opposite situation with Hilinski against the experienced Alabama football secondary. Shyheim Carter is expected to reclaim a starting role in the nickel, with Diggs and Surtain at the outside corners. McKinney and a much-improved Jared Mayden will start at the safeties. The only limited experience will come in the sixth Tide DB, who it appears will be freshman Jordan Battle rather than sophomore Josh Jobe.

Coupled with an effective pass rush, the Tide secondary will have the upper hand against Hilinski. What South Carolina must do is find offensive balance with a productive rushing attack. Muschamp has the running backs required in Tavien Feaster and Rico Dowdle. Success on the ground would open things up for Hilinski.

The Crimson Tide defensive front should be up to the task of controlling the run. A key will be getting solid contribution from the backups who rotate in on the defensive line. Phidarian Mathis, Byron Young and Justin Eboigbe need to produce when spelling the starters.

The interior of the Tide’s offensive line is the area of greatest vulnerability. Javon Kinlaw is a future NFL player. Like Kinlaw, another senior, Kobe Smith is a big, physical player. Both can challenge the Tide’s offensive line.

The three touchdown spread misrepresents the quality of the Gamecocks roster. Muschamp has some talented players. They will battle with enough athletic ability to surprise an unfocused Crimson Tide.

Next. Ryan Hilinski impresses Nick Saban.. dark

Anyone looking for the first win by a former Saban assistant will be disappointed. It will not happen Saturday in Columbia.