Alabama Virginia Tech – Three Sheets To The Win
Each week, the Lighthouse staff is going to select three offensive and three defensive players to shine a light on the keys to a victory. We are calling it “Three Sheets to the Win” because if we are wrong, we’re blaming it on being three sheets to the wind when we picked them. Make sense? Also, in sailing terms, sheets are lines. So, we’ll need each of these three players all pulling their sheets in the same direction if we want to sail this ship to Pasadena! In this segment, we look at three defensive players who will need to have a good game if we expect to gobble up the Hokies from Virginia Tech.
Vinnie Sunseri: We’ve been tough on Vinnie in previous writings simply because he’s been ineffective in coverage against the pass. In fact, last year it seemed that he was beaten more times than a rented mule. During the scrimmage two weeks ago, Vinnie was lined up as the deep safety in virtually every single package while Landon Collins was lined up much closer to the line of scrimmage. Collins’ range and ability to cover wide receivers is infinitely better than Sunseri so this struck me as a bit odd. Conversely, one would think Sunseri would be better suited by lining up as a linebacker so that he could do what he does best – decrapitate someone near the line of scrimmage. So, this new alignment was very intriguing to us!
In retrospect, last season when Sunseri was near the line of scrimmage that’s when he got locked up on WRs in the slot or TEs going down the seam and that is when he was roasted. Sometimes it was so bad, Vinnie went from being our favorite cousin Vinnie to that crazy uncle who drinks up all your liquor and refuses to leave your home. We are hopeful that his new role in the deep secondary doesn’t have us scratching our heads while passes are going over his head on Saturday. All kidding aside, Vinnie’s role as a deep safety should keep him from having to play as much man-to-man coverage and it should allow Collins to match up rather well on the underneath routes.
Jeoffrey Pagan: It’s time to shine for this big junior defensive end. For years we’ve been hearing about his incredible prowess either on the scout team or as a second teamer trying to earn his reps. Now is the time for him to show out. At 6’4, 290 lbs you probably wouldn’t expect a big man like this to move well. Well, he can. He’s runs faster than a Pagan in church (too easy?)! So why is it that a man this big and with this much talent is just now winning a job on the defensive line?
Aside from spelling his name funny, thus far Pagan hasn’t really generated anything memorable for the fans. LaMichael Fanning, for example, was able to pick up and dump a Missouri running back on his head in an incredible suplex move! Brandon Ivory has been talked about on ESPN by draft expert Todd McShay. Ed Stinson was listed in the top 50 college players by another draft expert named Daniel Jeremiah. And now, Dalvin Tomlinson has taken over the role of the mythic scout team beast. A’Shawn Robinson and Dee Liner are also pushing for more snaps so if this Pagan wants to be saved, he’d better play well on Saturday.
John Fulton: Fulton and converted defensive back Cyrus Jones waged an epic battle in fall camp to see which of the two would emerge as the corner starting opposite of Deion Belue. Jones excelled during A-Day, holding his own while he was locked up on Amari Cooper throughout the day. However, Fulton’s experience and ability to bring physicality into our run support won the day.
Last year against Texas A&M, Fulton was called into action and was soundly beaten on three consecutive throws by WR Jonathan Evans. After the third time, Fulton could have hung his head. He could have blamed his turf toe injury for making him a step or two slow. He could have quit. Instead, Fulton rose to the occasion knocking away the next four attempts to get the ball to Evans. In truth, Fulton was placed on an island and after a tough start, it was Fulton who bounced back and gave Alabama the chance to win the game in the final seconds. So, the question now is which Fulton are we going to see against Virginia Tech. Will he be the nervous Nellie who wets the bed or will he be the warden who locks the Hokies down and sends them to bed? Fulton certainly needs a strong game to prep him for what’s coming on September 14 in the rematch against A&M.