Against Virginia Tech, we correctly identified two out of the three guys you needed to watch against the Hokies. Right tackle Austin Shepherd and quarterback AJ McCarron were two guys who we told you would need to have a good game in order for the offense to click. Our third pick, running back Derrick Henry, was a bad swing and a miss on our part.
We are back this week to see if we can go three for three in picking the guys who will have to have a big game in order to come home with a big win on the road. We could have selected the entire offensive line but this site isn’t the Bama “Captain Obvious”. No, we are the Lighthouse and we pride ourselves on shining a light in the darkness to help you enjoy the game a little more. Here we go!
TJ Yeldon: Last time out, TJ Yeldon had a pretty sub par game all the way around. Yeldon continually cut the ball back into the backside pursuit instead of pressing the hole where the play was intended to go. I have no doubt that the coaching staff and his beleaguered offensive linemen “encouraged” him to do his job, stick to the plan and hit the holes hard. If Bama is to win on Saturday, Yeldon will have to have one of his finest performances. Bama needs to control the clock by running the football and that job resides with Yeldon.
Also, last week we were shocked by the fact that Yeldon, one of the team’s best receivers, didn’t record a single catch against the Hokies. In reviewing A&M games this season (particularly the Rice game), it’s obvious that the Aggies want to concede any passes to the backs out of the backfield. So, look for Yeldon to be a major force in the passing game this week.
Jalston Fowler: On the surface, this may seem like an odd selection so let me explain. Fowler had a miserable time of it against the Hokies. He missed numerous blocks as a fullback, an H-back and as a tight end. With Alabama in need of a very strong, very physical running game (and with A&M giving up 306 yards on the ground to Rice and 240 to Sam Houston State), look for Fowler to used quite a bit as a blocker. It’s clear the Aggies have no answer for a downhill running attack and with Nudie leading the way, Yeldon and company should have their way on the ground. But, Fowler looked unsure of himself out there against Virginia Tech so we’ll see if he can get back to his former self this week. Put it this way – he darn sure needs to.
OJ Howard: Here’s another below the radar pick from the Lighthouse staff. Again, it’s of paramount importance for the Alabama offensive line to get it together this week, especially when you realize that Rice and Sam Houston had their way with the Aggies front seven. But, in watching game film of the Aggie D, they continually lose the tight end in coverage. Last year, Michael Williams caught a pass for 20 yards and nearly had another one down the seam. Rice’s tight end Connor Cella had four catches for 52 yards with a couple of them coming down the seam. OJ Howard should be a big weapon and he had a near miss on a big play in the passing game when he was running down the seam against the Hokies. Of course, along with his ability to hurt A&M in the passing game, like Fowler, Howard is going to be at his very best when he’s called upon to block.
Here are three guys to watch for in the critical matchup against Johnny Goofball…