The Texas A&M Aggies and Alabama Crimson Tide will be playing in the biggest game of the week, and there are certain things each team has to do to walk away with their first SEC conference win of the season.
Alabama may have went on the win the national championship, but returning players still would like nothing more than to prove themselves against the Aggies. Meanwhile, the "Manziel Saga" has continued, but he keeps playing at a high level and winning games.
This is going to be a close game, and there are a couple things that each team needs to focus on heading into Saturday.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Keep Manziel in the Pocket
It's obvious that Manziel is a true playmaker, and the Crimson Tide will need to find ways to keep him in the pocket.
Manziel was sensational on the ground last season, running for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns. His speed and vision made him a deadly dual-threat, but that hasn't been the case so far this year. In the one-and-a-half games he's played this season, Manziel has ran the ball just 13 times for 55 yards and a score.
Keeping Johnny Football in the pocket doesn't just mean that they want to keep him from running, they also need to keep him from extending plays. When Manziel gets out of the pocket, he finds ways to extend the play. According to a piece from ESPN.com, Manziel threw for eight touchdowns and 26 first downs in 2012 while scrambling out of the pocket. Against the Tide, he went 6-of-6 with 78 yards passing and 94 yards on the ground when scrambling.
It seems like an impossible task, but the game will be a lot easier for Alabama if they can simply make Manziel a pure pocket passer for the entire game.
Get Christion Jones the Ball
Not a lot of people knew who Christion Jones was heading into this season, but he certainly made his name known to Tide fans after an incredible game against Virginia Tech.
Dynamic is the best word you can use to describe this kid. In the 35-10 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies, Jones had a punt return, kick return and reception for touchdowns. He has some incredible speed, and could become a truly dynamic player in Saban's offense if he wants to use him as such.
A lot of attention will go towards Amari Cooper in the passing game, and even more attention will go to the running backs, particularly T.J. Yeldon.
Teams may try to avoid Jones on special teams from now on, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to get the ball. If A.J. McCarron gets him the ball a few times in this game, there's a good chance he can take one to the house.
Texas A&M Aggies
Put Pressure on Alabama's Offensive Line
This may sound like a generic comment, but there might not be a bigger weakness on the Tide's entire roster than their offensive line.
McCarron was sacked four times in the team's season opener, and that was against an average defense. The running game struggled as well, as the team produced 206 total yards of offense in the win.
The departure of so many starting linemen is the likely reason for the offense's struggles. Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker all went to the NFL, and replacing that much talent on the offensive line is almost impossible.
This means that the Aggies will have to keep the pressure up early and often to set the tone. The defense hasn't looked very impressive in the first two games against weaker teams, so this will be the ultimate test for them.
Utilize Talented Backfield
Everyone wants to see Manziel light it up in this rematch, but the Aggies will have the best chance to win if they find ways to get the running backs involved.
Ben Malena was a big part of the team's success in 2012, and he's having a very good season so far. On just 22 carries, Malena has 173 yards and two touchdowns, along with a receiving touchdown.
Tra Carson has had a great season so far as well. He already has four touchdowns and 127 yards, while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Carson provides a different skill set at 6'1'' and 230 pounds in comparison to Malena, who is listed at 5'9'' and 195 pounds.
Both of these guys are extremely talented running backs that could keep the Tide off balance. They will be doing so much to plan for Manziel, but the strong run game will leave Alabama guessing as the game goes on.
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