Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The X factors: LSU players to watch

Courtesy of Chris Parent, LSU Athletics
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels plays in Alabama vs. LSU on Nov. 8, 2022, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

No. 14 LSU and No. 8 Alabama have been on a collision course all season; now, the two rivals will face each other for the SEC West championship game. Here is a preview of some key Tiger players the Crimson Tide will face.      

Jayden Daniels, QB 

Fifth-year quarterback and former Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels would have been taken in the 2023 NFL Draft but elected to return to Baton Rouge for a second season with the Tigers. Now, the stage is set for Daniels’ Heisman moment under the lights in Bryant-Denny Stadium.  

Daniels has been nothing short of remarkable this year. The dual-threat quarterback has thrown for 2,573 passing yards and 25 touchdowns, adding 521 yards and five touchdowns on the ground this season. 

The California native showed his might on the Crimson Tide in 2022, rushing for a 25-yard touchdown in overtime, then connecting with tight end Mason Taylor to knock off the Crimson Tide, ending Alabama’s playoff hopes.  

Alabama head coach Nick Saban didn’t hold back when commenting about Daniels’ performance against his team last season. 

“He killed us last year,” Saban said. “The guy was a really good player last year. He’s a really good player now. I think, overall, they execute their offense to perfection.” 

Alabama has been solid in shutting down mobile quarterbacks this season, but for what it’s worth, the Crimson Tide has yet to face a quarterback with a rushing prowess like Daniels. 

Malik Nabers, WR & Brian Thomas Jr., WR

Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. have undoubtedly been the most potent wide receiver duo in college football this season. 

Nabers, a four-star recruit from Southside High School in Youngstown, Louisiana, was given offers by many SEC teams but chose his home state’s side, LSU, over Mississippi State. The junior reached the 1,000-yard mark in 2022 and capped off his sophomore season with an electric 161-yard performance against Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, taking home the MVP of that game. 

ESPN NFL Draft insider Mel Kiper says Nabers is always a significant play threat.  

“[What is] Nabers’ best trait? It’s speed,” Kiper said. “He can take the top off the defense. He was consistent last season, showing off elite separation skills and the ability to high-point receptions.”  

Kiper’s comments have merit. According to Pro Football Focus, the Louisiana native leads all NCAA receivers in yards on receptions over 20 yards.

A table with numbers and numbers

Description automatically generated

On the other hand, Thomas is also a former four-star and Louisiana native. Thomas had Alabama in his final four teams as a recruit, but he chose the Tigers over the Crimson Tide.  

Similar to Nabers, Thomas is a fellow big-play threat. The junior wide receiver from Walker High School leads the NCAA in receiving touchdowns, with 11 this season. Thomas also has totaled 732 yards this year. 

With superstar cornerbacks Koolaid Mckinstry and Terion Arnold on Alabama and the dynamic play threats of Thomas and Nabers, the WR vs. CB matchup will be must-see TV.  

Harold Perkins Jr., LB 

If there’s a player currently in college football who fits the bill of being a “unicorn,” it’s LSU superstar linebacker Harold Perkins Jr.  

Hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, Perkins was a five-star recruit. Perkins was initially committed to Texas A&M, but he committed to stay in the state and go to Baton Rouge to play for the Tigers.  

When asked about preparing for the threat of Perkins, Saban said you can’t replicate his skill. 

“If we had somebody that could play like him, he’d be playing,” said Saban. “He wouldn’t be on the scout team.” 

Perkins was indeed a game-wrecker for the Tigers in 2022. In his freshman season, the linebacker was the highest-rated pass rusher in the SEC. Perkins charted 10 sacks on 20 total pressures. Despite this dominant freshman season, Perkins’ numbers have slightly dipped from a pass-rushing standpoint this season.  

What’s changed this season? Perkins’ usage has upped at the slot cornerback and box linebacker positions.  

Image preview

Regardless of the usage change, Perkins has been outstanding in coverage this season, as on his 144 snaps taken in the slot, he is the sixth highest-rated coverage player in the SEC, with an 86.9 PFF grade.  

If they want a successful day on offense, Alabama will have to neutralize Perkins in every facet.   

More to Discover