Players to watch in Saturday’s season opener

Players+to+watch+in+Saturday%27s+season+opener

James Benedetto, Staff Writer

ALABAMA

 

Defensive End Isaiah Buggs

 

Despite all the question marks on defense, Coach Nick Saban never had to worry about the defensive line. Entering his senior season – his second as a part of the Crimson Tide – transfer Isaiah Buggs was a force last year. He finished with 51 tackles in 2017, four of which went for a loss. Buggs alongside Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis will look to slow down the Cardinals’ running game.

 

Linebacker Dylan Moses

 

Dylan Moses burst onto the scene late last year. As a true freshman, Moses was forced to play significant minutes in the last three games of the regular season. He finished with 30 total tackles and an interception. Moses, alongside Mack Wilson, will be Alabama’s signal caller this year, since Rashaan Evans and Shaun Dion Hamilton graduated and went to the NFL.

Wide Receiver Devonta Smith

 

The unknown freshman became a household name in a matter of months last season. Smith now looks to improve on his numbers from last season and become a first option in the offense this season. Smith played in every game for the Crimson Tide last season. He recorded eight catches for 160 yards and three touchdowns. The former four-star prospect plays his best when the game is on the line. Two of the three touchdowns he caught last year wound up being the game winners. Watch for Smith to be a huge key in the passing game against Louisville.

LOUISVILLE

 

Quarterback Jawon Pass

 

The post Lamar Jackson era begins this weekend for Louisville. The Cardinals look to four-star rated, dual-threat quarterback Jawon Pass to be their leader this season. As a backup, Pass completed 23 of 33 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. He also can run: Pass rushed for 62 yards on 13 attempts and a score. Look for Pass to use this matchup against Bama as a statement game for himself and for the Louisville program.

Wide Receiver Jaylen Smith

 

The big passing threat for Louisville is senior Jaylen Smith. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound wide receiver from Pascagoula, Mississippi, caught 116 passes for 1,955 yards and 14 touchdowns as a Cardinal. Last season he led the team with 60 receptions for 980 yards and seven touchdowns. Look for head coach Bobby Petrino to use Smith early in the game to open up some holes in the Alabama defense.

Linebacker Jon Greenard

 

On defense, Louisville looks to redshirt junior Jon Greenard to make it tough for Alabama to gain anything on offense. Greenard has nine and a half career sacks and finished 32nd nationally in tackles for loss last season. The 6-foot-4, 263-pound linebacker led the team with 15.5 tackles for loss, and his 7 sacks ranked him 47th nationally. Look for Louisville to try and force the Alabama quarterback into making mistakes and trying to keep Alabama’s run game in check.