Campus Corner

Q&A with the Tuscaloosa News’ Alabama beat writer Aaron Suttles

Missouri will try for its first conference title since sharing the 1969 Big Eight crown with Nebraska on Saturday.

The No. 16 Tigers, 10-2, tussle with No. 1 Alabama, 11-1, at 3 p.m. in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome.

The Crimson Tide own 23 SEC titles, while Missouri, which has won five divisional championships in the last eight season but is 0-3 in conference titles game, is vying for its first.

For insight on the matchup with Alabama, we turned to Aaron Suttles, the Tide’s beat writer for the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Read his stories ahead of the SEC title game and follow him on Twitter.

Q: Missouri’s defense is allowing 98.5 yards rushing and 281.5 total yards during the current six-game win streak. Will Alabama have more success moving the ball?

Suttles: “Alabama is averaging nearly 500 yards a game, so it’s tough to completely shut down the Crimson Tide offense. The run-pass balance, 206 yards rushing per game and 282 yards passing, makes it difficult to slow down.”

Q: Maty Mauk throws a pretty good deep ball. Is that an area Missouri’s offense can try to attack Alabama, which has given up a few long passing plays this season?

Suttles: “Outside of the West Virginia and Auburn games, the Alabama secondary performed well all season against the big play. That said, given the way Eddie Jackson struggled against Auburn’s Sammie Coates, Missouri would be foolish not to test the DBs deep.”

Q: It’s the SEC Championship Game and the Tide has a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff at stake, but is there a chance Missouri get overlooked by Alabama?

Suttles: “By Alabama fans? Absolutely. By the Alabama team with everything at stake and with the taskmaster Nick Saban at the helm? Not likely. The players respect what Missouri has accomplished even if the fans and some (others) haven’t.”

Q: What is Cam Robinson’s status, and how critical is it for Alabama’s line to be intact against a Missouri pass rush — led by senior Markus Golden and junior Shane Ray — that leads the SEC and ranks in the top 10 nationally in sacks (40) and tackles for a loss (91)?

Suttles: “I’d be surprised if he didn’t play. The true freshman rushed back just two weeks after a high ankle sprain to play in the LSU game. I can’t imagine the shoulder sprain keeping him out of the this game. If he isn’t able to go, Alabama has had success sliding Austin Shepherd to left tackle and using reserve Grant Hill at right tackle.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to Follow him on Twitter @todpalmer.