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Saying that UAB offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort sees LSU outside linebacker Harold Perkins in his nightmares isn't quite accurate. It's more to the point, at least this week, to say that Telfort sees the nation's top freshman when he's awake.
Telfort spent a good deal of his time this week watching Perkins on tape. He's trying to find something – anything – that will give him a sliver of an advantage on Saturday when the Blazers visit LSU.
"Every day," Telfort said. "I look every day, every chance I can get, just looking for the smallest things. First step, body distribution, just anything I can find. Anything that can give me an edge, I'm going to look at."
So what's he seen thus far?
"He's a good kid with a bright future," Telfort said. "They move him around, in the box, outside, on the edge. He's like their [big] Honey Badger."
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Perkins is a five-star prospect, originally from New Orleans but attended high school in Cypress, Texas. He originally committed to Texas A&M before switching to LSU. He burst on the scene as a true freshman, compiling 52 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hurries and seven tackles for loss.
It didn't take any reading between the lines to understand what Lane Kiffin thought was a reason for his Ole Miss offense being stymied by LSU in the second half of a 45-20 Tiger victory earlier this season.
"They started playing 40 [Perkins] more, which I thought they would probably eventually do because he isn't like anyone else out there," Kiffin said in his postgame press conference.
Last Saturday, in a 13-10 victory over Arkansas, Perkins had eight tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles. One of his forced fumbles ended Arkansas' final possession with 1:19 left in the game.
"After 12 or 14 hours of film yesterday and late last night, he's a guy that really stood out," UAB interim head coach Bryant Vincent said during his Monday press conference. "You sit there and watch him and watch all the things he does, whether he's rushing, whether he's spying the quarterback, whether he's playing coverage, this is without a doubt the best true freshman I've seen in my career. Without a doubt. He's explosive, he's powerful, he can play with speed and hand power, and he plays with a lot of savviness."
This brings us back to Telfort. The 6-foot-8, 330-pound Miami native has NFL aspirations and potential. Chances are good that this tape will be studied closely by NFL scouts as they evaluate UAB players.
"I think any of these guys who have dreams of playing in the NFL, this is a measuring stick," Vincent said. "There are going to be a lot of guys we are going to face on Saturday who will play in the NFL. This is an opportunity to be in that environment, but also to play those type of players and this type of team."
Playing against Perkins will be a shared responsibility with the way he moves around. At times, right tackle Sidney Wells, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound senior, will get the assignment. Eli Richey, who will play the Rhino lineman position, could also play a big role. The inside linemen will also have to help out.
It will be a huge responsibility for a UAB offensive line dealing with injuries. Redshirt sophomore center Brady Wilson is expected to start again for injured Will Rykard. Wilson moved inside from the Rhino lineman spot when Rykard was hurting against UTSA. Wilson got his first start last week in the win over North Texas.
"He's a winner, he's a warrior, he's tough, he was ready for that moment," Vincent said. "I thought he came in, and he played excellent. Obviously, there's things he needs to clean up, but for his first start at center in that kind of game, what it meant to this football team and this senior class, he rose up for this team. I thought he played at a high level for his first start. He did a great job in pass protection; he did a great job in our IDs in our run game, and he really did a good job just getting movement and being physical at the line of scrimmage."
If Wilson had to miss any time, Matthew Trehern would slide over from left guard to center, which would bring Richey into the left guard spot. That would leave the Rhino position in question because of Wilson's move to center and an injury to backup Trey Bedosky.
"Now, we're thin up front, really thin," Vincent said. "These guys have got to step up in a big-time environment, a big-time game. It's an opportunity for those guys to rise to the occasion."
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