Alabama has gotten a few sacks this year, but they have all come from linebackers and defensive backs. Not one defensive lineman has recorded a sack.
With Alabama's most dangerous defensive end returning from suspension, will the defensive line as a whole start pulling its weight in the pass rush?
Sticking with the defensive line, the most impressive single defensive rush play thus far was by freshman Darrington Sentimore. Against Penn State Sentimore came painfully close to getting a sack. In fact the play was blown-up by his quick pressure.
Defensively Alabama is playing a large number of players in rotation. Sentimore is technically listed as third string, but he may need to be first string if Alabama needs to rush the passer.
Finding the right mix of players for each situation takes time but Nick Saban and his staff are masters at figuring this stuff out as the season goes along. Can they find that mix against Duke?
Alabama surprised us all with an empty backfield against Penn State. Kevin Norwood was one of the extra receivers.
The talented freshman who has made many a big catch at practice made his first big play for real against Penn State.
His first career catch was a beautiful 36-yard touchdown catch in which he used his speed to burst between two defensive backs that had the angle on him.
Can we expect more fireworks from Kevin Norwood?
True freshman linebacker CJ Mosley played much better than expected against San Jose State.
When semi-starter Chris Jordan went down with a shoulder injury against Penn State, it was CJ Mosley that trotted off the bench.
While Alabama was ahead at the time, it's clear that Mosley is securing his position on the team. If he continues to be a ball-seeking missile, can starting duty be far off?
Julio Jones has improved his game this year. He has played more consistently, not disappeared for lengths of time, he seems to be getting better separation, and is still one of the nations best blocking wide receivers.
But in each of the first two games he has dropped balls that most pee-wee players wouldn't drop.
It appears he is still having trouble maintaining concentration on the ball on every play. Can Julio play a complete game against Duke?
Walk-on Will Lowery beat the odds just by making the travel squad for an Alabama program that is loaded with 4- and 5-star talent.
Against San Jose State Lowery played much more than most expected and played well. Additionally he made a great tackle on kickoff coverage. But that was San Jose State.
Against Penn State Lowery played more and made a very athletic play to snag an interception that ended a Penn State drive deep in Alabama territory. Lowery made more plays on special teams as well.
Penn State went after Lowery with their taller receivers and it worked to some degree. Lowery dropped the big receivers where they caught the ball. Its likely his ability to stop big plays that has him getting this golden opportunity.
Can he keep it up?
Alabama corner Dry Kirkpatrick is well on his way to shutdown status. Quarterbacks are avoiding him like the plague.
On the other side however Alabama has trouble.
Regular starter Dequan Menzie hasn't been healthy all fall and he was having more trouble against Penn State.
In marches true freshman Demarcus Milliner, the No. 1 high school corner last year. Milliner, however, has been banged-up much of the fall as well.
Penn State went after him big time last Saturday and Milliner showed his youth and re-tweaked his hammy.
Phelon Jones came in to finish the game. Overall, Alabama is very unsettled at corner—will Duke be able to take advantage?
While Michael Williams is the more effective blocking tight end, he is also a monster tight end who could gash secondaries for yards and make them hurt tackling him.
So far, Williams has zero catches. Why is McElroy not targeting him? Will we see him get the ball against Duke?
The Duke Blue Devil Stadium, built in 1929, only holds a little over 39,000 fans.
I don't recall Alabama playing in front of such a small crowd lately—not even for spring practice.
Greg McElroy may have played for bigger crowds in his Texas high school career.
Will the players get that old high school feeling?
We've answered the question, "Can Trent Richardson handle the load?" He can.
Now, after several weeks, will Heisman winner Mark Ingram finally be healed enough to play? And how much will he play?
Though some attempt to compare Ingram and Richardson, their running styles are sufficiently different to make such comparisons moot.
Ingram and Richardson make each other that much more dangerous. We don't know what the eventual breakdown of carries will be, but will the Duke game give us an indication?