Nick Saban made it clear on his radio show Thursday that defensive starters Deontae Lawson and Jaylen Key are unlikely to play against Kentucky Saturday. What then? How will Alabama line up without them?

Former starter Trezmen Marshall is the likely choice to line up alongside rising star Jihaad Campbell at inside linebacker. Marshall has solid SEC experience at both Georgia and Alabama, where he landed from the transfer portal. Marshall is not a spectacular player like Lawson, but is solid much like former Tide linebacker Jalen Moody. He can get the job done against the run, which is what Kentucky is known for.

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In the secondary, things get a tad more complicated with Key missing, but all one has to do is turn the clock back a few days to see the adjustments Kevin Steele and Travaris Robinson made when Key made an early exit in the LSU win.

Here's a primer, and you may need to take notes: Nickel Malachi Moore moved to safety. Corner Terrion Arnold moved to nickel. Backup Trey Amos came in at corner. In the rare situations where Alabama went to six defensive backs, Kristian Story came in at dime. Fans noticed when Story made a stab at the ball instead of the man resulting in LSU's final touchdown, but Moore says overall coach's son Story is able to help.

"Kristian's a great player for us. He comes to work every day. Him just getting those reps in a game says a lot about him. He hasn't really played that much, but when he gets in there, he's trying to take advantage of those opportunities that are given to him.

Kristian Story From UA Media Relations
Kristian Story
From UA Media Relations

"That's all our guys in the secondary. We always tell everybody across the board on this whole team that, 'you have to ready to play. You never know when your number's going to be called.'

"It's great to prepare like a starter, so when you get the opportunity, you can go out there and perform."

Should Story not perform, well, fans could see a much younger player such as reportedly now-healthy Devonta Smith or Earl Little Jr. Saturday.

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