Alabama Football: 3 New Faces Who Will Make an Impact Against Michigan

Zachary ArthurCorrespondent IIAugust 30, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Dre Kirkpatrick #21 and Darius Hanks #15 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate after defeating Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Alabama  won the game by a score of 21-0.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

College football is back! The No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide take on the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines and there really couldn't be much of a better matchup for a season opener.

This season will feature the last BCS Championship game under the current (and broken) format. Since its inception in the 1998 season, no team has won the championship in back-to-back years. Alabama might have the team to change that statistic this year.

In order for that to happen, younger players are going to have to step up. Players that haven't felt the collegiate football pressure yet are going to have to come in and show that they belong on one of the best teams in the country. New starters will have to rise to the pressure and prove they belong among the 11 starters on either side of the football.

With that being said, here are three of the new faces that will make an impact against Michigan:


Amari Cooper

Being listed as the No. 3 wide receiver on the Crimson Tide depth chart could be overwhelming for a true freshman, but don't expect Cooper to have many problems with what the job entails.

Coming out of high school as the 49th ranked recruit in the country, he already possesses key characteristics necessary toward becoming a reliable receiver for Alabama.

At 6'1", 185 pounds, he doesn't need to add much more mass to be able to compete at this level. His biggest obstacle will be breaking press coverage, but that shouldn't be a problem as he develops and his technique improves.

With a good mix of speed and route running—on top of great hands—Cooper should be a good contributor for Alabama when they play Michigan this weekend.


T.J. Yeldon

It's time for T.J. Yeldon to embrace what the University of Alabama has been best at for the past four years.

Having an excellent backup running back.

Trent Richardson was the second punch for the Crimson Tide's run game two years ago and the results were obvious. It's Yeldon's turn to take on that role.

Yeldon doesn't have the power of Richardson, but he might have more elusiveness and athleticism than the former back. That clearly doesn't always translate to the college game, but Yeldon stands out among athletic running backs because of his powerful his initial burst through the hole.

He won't be the featured back, but Yeldon is sure to receive a number of carries against Michigan. Expect him to thrive in that environment and to be a key contributor for Alabama.


Cyrus Kouandjio

Being the youngest player on Alabama's offensive line sounds like a daunting task, but it's one that Kouandjio is taking in stride.

He came into the 2011 season as a Top-5 recruit, but saw his season cut short after tearing his ACL against the University of Tennessee. He was able to see some time at left tackle before the injury, but never got his chance to start because he was playing behind a talented group of players. released an article by Andrew Gribble of the The Huntsville Times that broke down how young Kouandjio really is compared to the other linemen:

"When he squats down for his first career start at Alabama's season opener against Michigan, Kouandjio will be the least experienced -- by a long shot -- of the Crimson Tide's five offensive linemen. It doesn't get any better when senior tight end Michael Williams and his 27 career starts are factored into the equation."

Inexperience usually comes with a growing period, but inexperienced players don't usually have the kind of support that Kouandjio has. Look for him to show the same kind of talent that made him a top recruit and will make him a staple on Alabama's line.

It all starts on Saturday against the University of Michigan.