Last time in this space, we told you to watch Vinnie Sunseri, Jeoffrey Pagan and John Fulton. Sunseri had the pick six so I’d say that one was a winner and Pagan had perhaps his best game as a Crimson Tider. Fulton’s game was solid but nothing spectacular, however he was beaten deep twice but the passes were overthrown.
But this is the week you are interested in. This is the matchup you’ve been waiting for. Saban versus Johnny Football. Smart versus Dumb. Good versus Evil. You get the point.
To stop Johnny Manziel, you have to first clamp down on his ability to run. Against Rice, Manziel ran it (6 times) nearly as many times as he threw it (8 times) and against Alabama he ran it an astounding 18 times. Eighteen! Saban and Smart always set out to stop the running game first and foremost and make a team one-dimensional. With a two-dimensional player like Manziel, that’s gonna be tough to do. But, Alabama is going to attempt to keep him in the pocket and fill the field with fast twitch, athletic players at every position. Here are three of them who you’ll need to be keeping an eye on…
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: HCD has the most range I have ever seen a safety have at the University of Alabama. This kid’s ability to run from sideline to sideline while the ball is in the air is simply unparalleled and is the reason he’s considered to be a lock for the first round of the NFL draft. Ha Ha will get several opportunities to have the last laugh on some deep balls and I anticipate Bama forcing Manziel to throw from the pocket throughout the day. His vision should be impaired so he likely will be baited into a couple of picks by our safeties. Ha Ha! Of course, if he has a bad game or takes a few bad angles, Manziel will be the one laughing…
Adrian Hubbard: The film room was mighty unkind to Adrian Hubbard when he sat down to watch himself against A&M last year. Time and time again Hubbard crashed down from the outside only to see Manziel easily avoid the rush and break the containment that Hubbard was supposed to keep. There are two ends so you could certainly put Devall, Dickson, Allen and even Anderson down in this spot but after last year we are anxious to see what Hubbard does. With all the next level ability in the world to rush the passer, will Hubbard be able to keep his composure and keep containment on the edge? Tune in Saturday. If he doesn’t keep that edge secured it’s gonna be a problem. Again.
CJ Mosley: How do you not put Mosley on this list? Last year against A&M, Saban and Smart unleashed Mosley on nearly ever single play by sending him flying at Manziel on a blitz. Mosley dictated the terms and put Johnny Highball on his heels from the second quarter on. Mosley is the best player on Alabama’s defense and is the only one of the linebackers who appears to have the speed to keep Johnny under lock and key. When Saban decided to blitz one of his safeties, he kept Mosley near the line of scrimmage in case Manziel attempted to run. It worked beautifully and kept Manziel in the pocket for the rest of the contest.
Mosley is going to have responsibilities to fill the gaps on the interior running plays as well as chasing down Manziel on the outside rushes. He’s going to blitz. He’s going to spy. He’s going to be in coverage. The weight of the world is on CJ Mosley’s shoulders and it’s going to take a huge game for him for Alabama to come out with a win.
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