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The Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic provides a number of key match-ups but one that will likely be crucial in Mississippi's quest to win the game will be how their quarterbacks perform against the Alabama defense. Rivals.com's Chris Nee breaks down the matchup.
Alabama defensive line: Brent Calloway (Russellville), Allan Carson (Oxford), Blake Dees (Spanish Fort), Dre'Shon McGaster (Foley), JaBrian Niles (Davidson), Jamichael Payne (Auburn), Denzell Perine (Davidson)
The first thing you notice about the Mississippi quarterbacks is their lack of height. Johnson is listed at 6-foot-1 and Stevens is listed at 6-foot but both check in shorter than that. Their lack of height causes issues with a number of balls being batted at the line of scrimmage and limits their ability to see the middle behind their offensive line.
Johnson is more of a dual-threat quarterback who is thick and has deceptive speed. Stevens is more of the passer with very good mechanics and the ability to put a decent amount of zip on the ball. Both quarterbacks are blessed with a very talented Mississippi wide receiver corps, but behind a mediocre offensive line will rely on quick decisions and quick passes, including screens underneath and quick slants.
Two hybrid athletes provide nice depth along the Alabama defensive line. In certain situations, expect linebackers Calloway and Dees to step into the defensive role and bring pressure off the edge. Calloway is a high-end athlete who is long while Dees is a bit more of a wrecking ball who likes to attempt to annihilate anything in front of him.
The more traditional defensive linemen for the Alabama squad include McGaster and Perine, who will likely handle regular defensive end duties. McGaster is a short, compact end with good upper-body strength. Perine is a thin, slender defensive end who will have to rely on speed off the edge. The meat in the middle will be provided by Niles, who is a big defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, and Payne, who tilts the scales at well over 300 pounds. Carson is another defensive tackle who is a wide-bodied player with decent strength. He will help to plug up the middle.