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Alabama Panel: Duke week

What does the Tide need to improve before facing SEC competition?

Kenny Freeman: Your goal should be to improve every game, but I like the way Alabama is playing right now as a team, maybe the secondary due to the lack of

experience.

Shannon Ferguson: The only thing I see that may need a tune-up is our young secondary. They are improving game by game, but in my opinion ,that is our weakest link.

Roger Hoggle: Defensive line needs to get more of a push up front.We need to put more pressure on the quarterback and do a better job of containing him. Also, we need to be a little better stopping the short throws underneath, be it with linebackers or cornerbacks.

Given Trent Richardson’s success, how should the coaching staff handle Mark Ingram’s return?

Kenny Freeman: What a great problem to have. I am sure it won’t happen but I would love to see some of the “good old I backfield” with both in the backfield. I can

just imagine what kind of problems this would cause for a defense. I could draw up all kind of backyard plays with the athletes on this team.

Shannon Ferguson: They’ll handle it just like all the other games Ingram has played in. I think this week the coaches are just going to let him get his feet wet since he is coming back from knee surgery and I’m sure he’ll get his fair share of offensive touches. But when we start SEC play, look for Ingram to be the main ball carrier and Richardson right behind him.

Roger Hoggle: I would give Ingram a minimum number of carries and see how his knee responds to game conditions. Also, limiting his carries will keep him fresh for the upcoming stretch of SEC games. I would keep Trent in for the majority of the carries and get Eddie Lacy some more touches, as well as more experience pass blocking.

Jerelle Harris is the leading tackler. Robert Lester has the most interceptions.Who is your defensive MVP through the first two games of the season?

Kenny Freeman: I like Donte Hightower for a lot of reasons, but I think his leadership role is far more important than any one thing or player on this defense.

Shannon Ferguson: I would have to say my defensive MVP is Ed Stinson. In the Penn St. game alone he had a team high nine tackles with one resulting in a interception. With contributions like that, he can’t be over looked.

Roger Hoggle: I would say both of those guys would share that title so far. They have both stepped into their respective roles and done more than expected. Harris

has the potential to be a season leader in tackles, and Lester looks as if he will play a significant role in leading and developing our young secondary.

Duke is currently sixth in the country in passing yards, averaging 354 per game. How big of a challenge will the Blue Devils provide Alabama’s secondary Saturday?

Kenny Freeman:  I think Alabama’s pass rush is going to be more of a challenge for Duke than Duke’s passing game is a challenge for  Alabama’s secondary.

Shannon Ferguson: The Blue Devils are averaging more than 40 pass attempts per game, so our secondary has got to be on its A game all day.

Roger Hoggle: I think if we can put enough pressure on their quarterback with our defensive front our secondary can settle in and shut down their passing attack. I look for Dareus to make up for lost time and play a big role in keeping their offense in check.

What will the final score be and who is your key player this weekend?

Kenny Freeman: Alabama 41, Duke 9  Key Player, the pass rush of Dont’a Hightower and Marcell Dareus.

Shannon Ferguson: My key player for the game is going to be Marcell Dareus. After sitting out the first two games, he’s ready to play! Bama’s defensive line hasn’t recorded a sack so far. So I’m hoping with Dareus back in the lineup the D-line can start pulling its weight against the pass rush. Plus Dareus is going to be putting a lot more pressure on the opposing quarterbacks! 42-3 Bama.

Roger Hoggle: 42-14 and I look for Mark Barron and Marcell Dareus to have really big games.