We've decided that since Alabama is a new opponent for most Michigan and Big Ten fans, we are going to highlight a few players that fans should keep an eye on during the game. Alabama is a deep and talented team, but they still have a few playmakers that will need to play well for the Crimson Tide to reign victorious against Michigan on Saturday.
AJ McCarron is obviously the number one guy to watch on Saturday night. Last season he took over for the departed Greg McElroy and in the 2012 BCS National Championship against the #1-ranked LSU Tigers, McCarron won Offensive MVP as Alabama won its fourteenth national title, 21-0. Last season he threw for
2, 634 yds for 16 TDs and 5 INTs. I realize those numbers are not eye popping, but Alabama was a run-heavy offense and AJ is more of a game managing quarterback, and not a game changing one. With Trent Richardson now gone, the focus of the offense might be placed squarely on the shoulders of McCarron, even with no true number one wideout. He is tall at 6'4 and behind their stout offensive line that includes Outland Award winning player Barrett Jones, he is also comfy in the pocket. Getting a good pass rush on him might be next to impossible.
Eddie Lacy is another player to watch out for. As I mentioned before, the powerhouse that is Trent Richardson is now gone, leaving the starting spot open for Lacy. During the 2011 regular season, Lacy had 631 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. His average of 7.5 yards per carry ranked sixth among all players in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Keep that in mind when you realize he wasn't even the starting running back. He's not a bruiser like Richardson was, but his shiftiness should keep defenses on edge. He might not be completely healthy for the Michigan game due to a turf toe injury that he had surgery on, and TJ Yeldon might have to spot carries this season, but Lacy should be ready to go.
CJ Mosley is the main guy who will be taking over for Dont'a Hightower at linebacker. Replacing Hightower on the weakside will not be easy for anyone, yet last season Mosley had 37 total tackles with two sacks, one interception, and 2 passes defensed. Overall the Alabama defense has lost some big names in Mark Barron and Hightower, but they should be lethal nonetheless. The secondary might have a little bit of a dropoff, but the linebackers should be keeping the Alabama defense right where it's used to being. Dominant. By the end of the season, Mosely could end up being a defensive MVP. As long as he remains healthy from a dislocated hip in the national championship game, Mosley is going to be a game changer all season long.