One out of six Butkus Award nominees plays linebacker for The University of Alabama. The 12…
Upshaw Has Been Watching LSU
Alabama jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw will learn all he can about the LSU offense in watching videotape of the Fighting Tigers between now and the Nov. 5 showdown between number one LSU and the number two Crimson Tide. But when he has been able to catch LSU on television, he has enjoyed watching the Tigers defense.
"I watch a lot of teams," said Upshaw, a 6-2, 265-pound outside linebacker from Eufaula. "I watch LSU, honestly. Whenever we have a chance in the hotel we're watching games. There are a bunch of guys when I'm watching I'm like, ‘Wow, those guys are real good.' And Tyrann Mathieu, I like that guy to death."
Mathieu is an LSU defensive back who was considered a candidate for the Heisman Trophy before he was suspended prior to last week's LSU-Auburn game. LSU coasted without Mathieu, top running back Spencer Ware, and back-up defender Tharold Simon, defeating Auburn, 45-10.
Both Alabama and LSU are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Southeastern Conference play. The Tide and Tigers will meet in Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday, Nov. 5, in what is being billed as a de facto national championship game, or at the least a play-in game for the BCS title contest.
Upshaw is having quite a year for Bama, which has statistically the nation's best defense – ranking number one in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense, and scoring defense. Upshaw ranks third on the Tide in tackles with 19 primary stops and seven assists. He leads Bama in tackles for loss with 11.5 for 54 yards in losses and in sacks with 4.5 for 35 yards in losses. He returned an interception for a 45-yard touchdown against Florida in Gainesville. He also has a oass deflection, a team-best seven quarterback hurries, and has caused two fumbles.
No wonder that this week Upshaw and fellow Tide linebacker Dont'a Hightower were named among the 12 semifinalists nationwide for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's most outstanding linebacker.
Upshaw said that LSU is "fun to watch. When I'm watching them, I'm watching the defense, because I'm defensive guy. Tyrann Mathieu and those other guys, they get after the ball. I watched the Oregon game and other games, just watching them get to the ball."
A week from Saturday it will be Upshaw's job to get to the LSU ball carriers
Upshaw has been hearing about the upcoming Alabama-LSU game "from day one, honestly, a lot of people have been talking about this game. We're expecting a good game. They're a good bunch of guys, a good team. They do a lot of things that we've never seen and will have to work on, but we're looking forward to a good game."
Upshaw doesn't think he and his Crimson Tide teammates will have a difficult time tuning out all the buzz about the game, but he knows that "it's a big game for the players and for the fans."
Upshaw said that Tennessee challenged the Tide defense by running straight ahead. "Those guys (Tennessee) can run the bal, and we knew coming in that they were going to try to run the ball. But LSU, they have more physical backs. We expect it to be a tough, hard-fought game."
Bama held Tennessee to 92 yards rushing on 32 attempts. For the year, Bama opponents have rushed 215 times for an average of 1.7 yards per attempt and average only 44.9 yards rushing per game.
One thing Alabama's defense has to prepare for is LSU using two quarterbacks, but that was also the case a year ago. In 2010, the Tigers started Jordan Jefferson and had Jarrett Lee in reserve. This year, Lee is the starter, but Jefferson gets plenty of playing time for LSU.
Upshaw said, "Last year they were doing some of the same things, but Jordan Jefferson was mainly the guy. So we're going to go into this game and have something for both quarterbacks. They have their own strengths, but we'll be ready for them."
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