Alabama Football: Players That Must Step Up for Crimson Tide to Defeat Irish

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Amari Cooper #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide pulls in this touchdown reception over the hands of Frank Crawford #5 of the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Just because Alabama is favored to win its second national championship in a row does not mean that it will be easy.

Notre Dame features a lot of talent on both sides of the ball that will cause problems throughout the BCS National Championship Game. The Irish have a defense that can match the Tide and a number of offensive playmakers that can score at any time. 

For these reasons, a few players will have to outperform their usual expectations in the season's final game.


OT D.J. Fluker

The interior part of the Alabama offensive line gets more publicity, with Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones both being named first-team All-American.

However, tackle D.J. Fluker might have the toughest job of the day.

His job will be to prevent Stephon Tuitt from making an impact. This will not be easy: The Notre Dame defensive end totaled 12 sacks on the season. 

In addition, he showed his athleticism earlier with a 77-yard fumble returned for a touchdown.

Fluker will need to make sure that Tuitt stays on his side of the line of scrimmage, allowing quarterback A.J. McCarron to have plenty of time to throw the ball.

Otherwise, the end has the ability to single-handedly disrupt this offense. 


WR Amari Cooper

Notre Dame is fully aware of the rushing attack that has helped Alabama reach this point. Both Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon will be accounted for every time they step onto the field.

If they are slowed down, the Crimson Tide will look toward the pass to move the football. This is where Amari Cooper will need to be at his best.

The freshman receiver has more than twice as many catches, receiving yards and touchdowns as anyone else on the team, and he should be featured once again in the title game. 

His speed stretches the defense, and it creates more balance for the offense.

Last year against LSU, Alabama surprised everyone with an aggressive passing attack early. The same strategy could work in this game if Cooper plays to his abilities.


Adrian Hubbard

C.J. Mosley is the star of the linebacking corps for Alabama, and the team knows what it will get out of the All-American.

On the other hand, Adrian Hubbard is much quieter as an outside pass-rusher. Still, he can make a bigger impact in this game if he plays well.

Hubbard is the team's best pass-rushing linebacker, totaling six sacks on the year and 10 tackles for loss. He was able to get a sack in each of the last two games but only managed a half of a sack in the five previous contests.

Irish quarterback Everett Golson has played well this year, but he is prone to mistakes. Hubbard needs to be the person that forces him into stressful situations by getting past the line in a hurry. 

Golson will not be effective if he does not have time to throw the ball down the field.


Cade Foster

As the team's long-distance kicker, Cade Foster has not had too many opportunities to shine. He has only made 18 field-goal attempts in the last two years.

Unfortunately, he also only made six of those.

His one attempt in the SEC Championship Game was blocked and returned for a touchdown.

There is a good chance that coach Nick Saban decides that it is not worth risking another long kick, but Foster has to take advantage of the opportunity if he gets one.

Jeremy Shelley has not proven he can hit anything longer than 40 yards, so Foster might be thrust into action in a big moment.

The junior must prove he is worthy of any chance he gets.