News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Makeshift line has
job of blocking Dorsey

Tide blockers wary of defensive tackle

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Listening to Alabama players talk about LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey sounds like a broken record.

First, take offensive lineman Justin Britt’s analysis: “He’s an intense, intense man.”

Then listen to lineman Andre Smith: “Strong, explosive, not scared of anything.”

Take those observations of the 6-foot-2, 299-pound Dorsey and add Alabama’s makeshift offensive line, and you have a recipe for an interesting matchup when the No. 3 Tigers (7-1, 4-1 SEC) play at No. 17 Alabama (6-2, 4-1) on Saturday.

Dorsey said that after sustaining a knee injury against Auburn, he is taking it “day by day,” but during a teleconference Tuesday, he sounded optimistic about playing against Alabama.

The Crimson Tide could be without utility offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell — he has played center and left and right guard this season — and right guard Marlon Davis. Both are suspended as part of Alabama’s investigation into impermissible receipt of textbooks. According to Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the probe is ongoing and there is no timetable when they might return to game action.

Both have been practicing since they were suspended a day before Alabama beat Tennessee.

The duo of B.J. Stabler and Justin Britt have slid into their slots at right guard and left guard, respectively. Britt started every game at left guard until Alabama’s win over Ole Miss, which he missed after his mother was involved with an accident. Stabler, a junior, had 18 starts on offensive line his first two years of college before bad knees derailed him this year. He got his chance against Tennessee, starting and playing with the first team the whole game.

Both Stabler and Britt were informed the day before that game that they would start. Now against arguably one of the best defensive lines in the country, both will be tested.

“Their defensive front is very good,” Saban said. “Their two inside players have exceptional initial quickness and explosive power, and they’re difficult for anybody to block. It will certainly be a challenge for our offensive line.

LSU’s defensive line averages 287 pounds. Anchored by Dorsey, who has 39 tackles and four sacks, it is the strong front to a defense that hasn’t lost its touch since Saban bolted LSU for the NFL before the 2005 season.

The Tigers are ranked second defense, allowing 232.25 yards a game.

“There really is not any weak links on their defensive team,” Saban said.

So how will Alabama protect quarterback John Parker Wilson and open running lanes for running backs Terry Grant and Roy Upchurch? According to players, the win over Tennessee gave them enough confidence to block the Bengal Tigers’ bruising front.

“I like how we’ve responded,” Tide center Evan Cardwell said. “Nobody has asked when (the suspended players) are coming back. We’re taking it as an opportunity for some of the guys to step up.”

Practicing against Alabama’s offensive line, Tide defensive end Wallace Gilberry said he senses a difference within the unit. According to Gilberry, offensive line coach Joe Pendry has changed the focus with the group and created some kind of bond.

“It’s basically the same group of guys (as two years ago), but since they’ve hooked up with Coach Pendry, he’s turned them into a unit,” Gilberry said. “They’re playing as one and they are pancake blocking a lot of people.”

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