Alabama Football: 5 Playmakers That Will Give the Crimson Tide Defense Trouble
Alabama is going to go through some growing pains on defense. There are some specific opposing players that are looking to make their names against the defending national champions.
From Michigan to Auburn, the road is rocky between the Tide and the crystal football. The great news for Saban (and Tide fans) is that the Tide can have a significant drop from last year to this one and still be the nation's top defense.
Let's take a look at the five players that will be trying to make a name for themselves at the expense of the Tide's 2012 defense.
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Denard Robinson will be the first playmaker to get a crack at the Tide's youthful defense. Though Saban will have the Tide as prepared as possible to walk off with a win at the end of the day, the Wolverines will rely on Robinson's ability to make plays to try to start the season off with a signature win over the Tide.
The Wolverines are coming off an 11-2 season capped with an overtime victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Sugar Bowl. Robinson will be using his 2,000-plus-yard passing attack and his 1,000-plus-yard rushing ability to try to find glorious opportunity against the Crimson Tide.
Robinson totaled 20 touchdowns through the air last year, and he stacked 16 rushing scores on before the dust settled at the end of the year. Just a few mistakes by the Tide's defense could be the difference between "defending national champions" and "2010 all over again" ringing over the airwaves for five solid months.
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Tyler Wilson will get a crack at the Tide in his own house in week three of this season. He's already motivated by a 24-point thrashing in Tuscaloosa last year, and is looking for redemption.
He completed 63 percent of his passes last year for over 3,500 yards and 24 touchdowns. He added four rushing touchdowns to that total, but he's no Denard Robinson in that aspect of the game.
With his passing prowess, he doesn't need to be a great rusher. He just needs to scramble enough to get his receivers open.
Wilson is a great quarterback. He will enter the stadium with the taste of blood in his mouth. Wilson will be the Tide's first true test against an elite passing attack. Don't forget that Arkansas was third in the 2011 BCS standings until LSU knocked them back down the list.
Wilson is a playmaker. A blown assignment is not likely to escape his notice. It's much more likely to land the 'Backs in the end zone.
The Tide merely needs to blow one assignment in each quarter for the Razorbacks to make up the 24-point deficit from last year. That's not a lot of room for error.
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Knile Davis is quite an asset for the Arkansas Razorbacks. While the Tide's secondary is out there figuring out how to stop the passing attack, Davis will be attempting to blaze a trail through the Tide's defensive line.
Davis brings talent to the Razorbacks' backfield, and he gouged defenses for over 1,300 yards in 2010. (In fact, he averaged seven yards per carry against the 2010 Tide defense...though it was only on six carries.)
While the Michigan Wolverines have threats in the passing and rushing aspects of the game, they come primarily from the quarterback. Arkansas will be much tougher for the Tide to bring down, especially in Fayetteville.
The Tide have their work cut out for them, and Arkansas will be no patsy.
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Dorial Green-Beckham made an exciting commitment on Feb 1, 2012. He committed to the Missouri Tigers for football. As the nation's top receiving prospect of the last signing class, that commitment disappointed a lot of football fans.
Crimson Tide fans were among those disappointed people. Though he is not currently on the depth chart for the Tigers, it's not out of the question that he could earn his way there quickly.
With the Tigers experiencing their rookie season in the SEC, he may step up and be a difference-maker by the time the Tide roll into town to take on the Tigers.
Beckham is a playmaker. If he steps up quickly and looks like a college player, he'll see time against the Tide. If he sees time against the Tide, he'll know that he's one huge touchdown away from instant stardom in the SEC. That kind of motivation is difficult to defend against, especially with just high school game tape to review.
The Crimson Tide should be aware of his placement at all times, should this situation present itself. With the challenges that Missouri will face in 2012, expect to see him against the Tide. (If he doesn't take the field sooner, of course.)
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When you take into account the fact that Georgia Southern gouged 'Bama for 302 yards all by themselves, that 72-yard total by Ford looks even better.
Alabama's defense should be sufficiently gelled by the time the LSU game kicks off this year, but Ford will be out for revenge. A 21-0 beatdown in a national championship is a bitter pill.
Ford will be out for revenge, and will have a bye before the Tide show up in Death Valley. Playmakers can't win a game all by themselves. Do not deny the fact that they can be a seven-point difference under the right circumstances.
Honorable mention: Zach Mettenberger. If he lives up to the hype, he could be as big a threat as Ford.