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Wednesday, November 5, 2008
SEC internal affairs: Bama's three-headed attack

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

We take our weekly "Internal Affairs" look at the upcoming games this week in the SEC:

1. Three-headed attack: More than at any other time this season, Alabama's running game has become a three-headed attack with Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram and now Roy Upchurch. The Crimson Tide will throw all three running backs at the LSU defense this Saturday, and Upchurch is probably the freshest of the bunch. He has a little different style than Coffee and Ingram and probably brings a little more speed to the equation. Upchurch has 21 touches in his last two games (counting catches) after not carrying the ball at all against Kentucky. The bottom line is that Alabama will look to have a set of fresh legs in the game at running back at all times against the Tigers.

2. Dueling quarterbacks: Kentucky coach Rich Brooks has never been fond of playing two quarterbacks, but that's the route he plans to go the rest of the season with freshman Randall Cobb and sophomore Mike Hartline. Cobb will again be the starter this week against Georgia, and Hartline will back him up. From there, Brooks will go with the hot hand. He simply feels it's Kentucky's best chance to win games right now. The interesting part of this plan is that when Hartline comes in, Cobb won't necessarily go to the bench. He'll stay on the field as one of the Wildcats' top receivers.

3. Wright sighting: The Razorbacks have been looking for more firepower on offense to help junior tailback Michael Smith, and they found it last Saturday in true freshman receiver Jarius Wright. His role in the offense will be even more critical for the Hogs as they go against a South Carolina defense that will load the box this weekend and play a bunch of man coverage. Wright caught five passes for 112 yards in the 30-23 win over Tulsa after coming into the game with a total of seven catches for 67 yards. Most importantly, Wright had a couple of big-gainers against Tulsa, the kind of plays the Hogs will need to soften up the South Carolina defense.

4. Creating chaos: South Carolina's defense hasn't done it with smoke and mirrors this season. The Gamecocks are talented and experienced on defense, and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and his staff have done a good job of mixing it up. The Gamecocks, ranked third nationally in total defense, will undoubtedly throw an array of fronts, blitzes and coverages at Arkansas this Saturday. The Hogs do have a senior quarterback in Casey Dick, but the Gamecocks are especially good at Williams-Brice Stadium with the home crowd of keeping offenses off balance with different looks.

5. Putting it on Wilson: It's supposedly the blueprint for beating Alabama, but nobody has been able to execute it: Get ahead of the Crimson Tide and make them beat you with John Parker Wilson throwing the football. The onus is on the LSU defensive front-seven this weekend, if the Tigers are going to follow that blueprint. The key is getting Alabama in a lot of third-and-longs and stopping the run on first and second downs. LSU will again move Tyson Jackson around from end to tackle depending on the down and distance, and this is a game that screams out for tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, who should be healthier now, to show the same dominance he did a year ago in the BCS title game. In short, the Tigers will sell out to stop the Tide's running game.