Alabama Football: 5 Players Who Must Step Their Game Up Before BCS Championship
Alabama is just a few short weeks away from beginning bowl practice for the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. The Tide are expected to take home the crystal football, but without these five guys stepping up their game, it won’t happen.
The Crimson Tide has been vulnerable to deep passes at times this fall, and a lot of that falls on breakdowns at the safety position.
The passing game has also struggled in big games, becoming one-dimensional without Michael Williams performing consistently from the tight end position.
Against Georgia, the Tide surrendered a number of rushing yards through the middle of the line, which is traditionally a strong point for the Alabama defense.
Alabama needs these five guys to focus intently in bowl preparation, and bring together their best performances of the year for the Tide to earn a 15th national title.
Vinnie Sunseri: Safety
Vinnie Sunseri is one-half of the safety position for Alabama. Robert Lester covers the other half of the field for Alabama, but Suneseri has needed help often.
The Tide have been scary good at the safety position in the past few seasons with Mark Barron roaming the secondary, so the shift to Sunseri was bound to bring a bit of a drop off.
This year has been more than a drop off, however, with Sunseri only snagging two interceptions and 12 total tackles in the past four games. He only had one against Georgia.
If Alabama is going to stop Tyler Eifert and Co., they have to get better production from Sunseri.
D.J. Fluker: Offensive Tackle
D.J. Fluker is a bulldozer for the Tide offense in the ground game, but he is borderline terrible in pass protection.
Alabama is giving up almost two sacks a game this fall and a number of those have come off of Fluker.
A solid speed pass rush can keep Fluker off balance and allow for multiple pursuit angles on A.J. McCarron in the pocket. Prince Shembo and Stephon Tuitt are specialists at beating slower, larger linemen.
Fluker has to get better in a hurry to keep McCarron upright this January.
Michael Williams: Tight End
Michael Williams was expected to step in and have a strong, NFL-type season at tight end for the Tide this fall.
Instead, he has only caught 21 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns. He has been a solid blocker, but Alabama needs a solid second option in their passing game—especially with the rash of injuries that have plagued the receiving corps.
A.J. McCarron will face a relentless pass rush against the Irish and will need for Williams to be a solid checkdown option. Without him playing at a season high, the Tide could struggle to move the football.
He has six total catches in the past five games. That won’t get it done in Miami.
Jesse Williams: Nose Tackle
Jesse Williams brings a nasty reputation to the playing field. He is one of the best nose tackles in the college game, but against Georgia he showed some vulnerability.
He had a knee injury early in the game that he was pushing through, but before that occurred he was struggling to handle double-teams and some single blocks from the Georgia offensive line.
The Bulldogs were able to isolate Williams consistently and push for a ton of yards through the center of the Alabama defense. Without Williams at 100 percent, the Bama defense will have to adjust their linebacker play to make up for the center field deficit.
Trey DePriest: Linebacker
Trey DePriest has become one of the anchors for the Alabama defense at linebacker. Being only a sophomore, his achievement is nothing short of impressive, but his past few games have been suspect.
DePriest only accounted for 12 total tackles in the past three games played. In addition to his meager showings in the past few weeks, he has been dreadfully inconsistent this fall.
The Crimson Tide will be relying on DePriest to step up his play so that they can stop the three-headed monster that is the Notre Dame backfield. If he gets less than four stops in this game, the Tide will be struggling against the run.