Previewing the 1 Alabama vs 6 Texas A&M game (9/14, 2:30pm Central on CBS)


Tomorrow top ranked Alabama takes on number 6 Texas A&M in perhaps the most anticipated game of the season. Last year, A&M knocked off the Crimson Tide 29-24 behind eventual Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny “Football” Manziel. Alabama would go on to win the SEC Championship, and the BCS National Title.

But alas, this is a new year, a new season, and new teams. But no matter how much things change, some things stay the same. A&M returns Johnny Manziel, who served a half a game suspension against Rice, and the Tide returns the ever efficient, 2 time National champion AJ McCarron. Standout Freshman WRs Amari Cooper (Alabama) and Mike Evans (A&M) also return.

This article, however, is all about why Alabama has a very good chance to not only win the game, but do so in impressive fashion. I’ll quickly hit the offense, before going over how Alabama will stop the reigning Heisman Winner.

The Tide’s offense has explosive potential, with a receiving corps as deep as any in the country, and a tailback who is among the best in College Football. Cyrus Kounadjio has an argument as the best Offensive Lineman in the nation, while Right Guard Anthony Steen is no pushover. I will say this, when it comes to Bama’s offense, the proof is NOT in the pudding. AJ McCarron didn’t audible, he didn’t do his usual Peyton Manning impersonation, and the Offensive Line rarely, if ever, pulled. If a run play was called and Tech was lined up to stop it, Bama ran the called play. I know how it sounds, but safe money is Bama played extremely vanilla on purpose.

A&M has no game film of this Alabama offense, Bama has two to watch on the Aggies. Bama will score in the thirties off of offensive scores, I’ll take that be any day of the week. I’d even venture to say 40s, but we don’t wanna get too carried away, we have to be objective.

Moving to the defense, based off of comments from Nick Saban on “Hey Coach”, expect to see the Tide run a lot of Dime looks. That means a 4 man front, one lone Linebacker, and 6 DBs. This will likely be Bama’s starting lineup.

JACK: Denzel Devall (So.)
DL: Jeoffrey Pagan (Jr.)
DL: Ed Stinson (Rs. Sr.)
SAM: Adrian Hubbard (Rs. Jr.)

SPY LB: CJ Mosley (Sr) (he said he believes he will be the Spy)

CB: Deion Belue (Sr.)
CB: John Fulton (Sr.)

Star: Jarrick Williams (Rs. Jr.)

FS: Ha’Sean Clinton0Dix (Jr.)
SS: Vinnie Sunseri (Jr.)

Money: Landon Collins (So.)

We’ll first detail CJ Mosley’s role as the Spy for Manziel. While maintaining natural coverage responsibilities, Mosley will mirror the Quarterback and, if Manziel breaks contain, will be asked to stop him one on one in the open field. CJ Mosley is a projected first round draft pick and will excel in this role. He has said that last year Bama’s defense underestimated the speed of Johnny Football, and that they’re more prepared now.

Up front we may not see much of a chance to substitute if the Aggies can go as fast as they want to, but when we can sub expect to see some younger guys having to come in. This could create SOME problems, but I’m confident that we’ll see Xzavier Dickson subbing in for one of Pagan/Stinson, that way we have more experience up front. The front four is going to be asked to contain Johnny Manziel in the pocket. They aren’t necessarily rushing him. The interior guys will push the pocket toward Manziel and clog any running lanes that could potentially open up. This will put some pressure on him to make a rushed, or bad, throw. The LBs will maintain control of their blocker and try to win the leverage battle, so if Manziel starts to roll they can stay in front of him and stop his running efforts, or at least make it hard for him to see where he wants to throw to.

As for the secondary, they have an important role to play. First and foremost, they must have discipline in coverage. No matter how long the play lasts, they can’t turn their eyes away from their man to watch Manziel. They have to focus on their guy and do everything they can to not let them get open. Contest all throws. Expect a tight press coverage all day long. HCD is a great centerfield Safety, but don’t be surprised if it’s Vinnie Sunseri in that role sometimes. For the most part, expect Vinnie in the box playing a Robber role, and possibly blitzing on occasion. Don’t expect much blitzing from the Tide D though, it’s important that Manziel doesn’t break free. If our guys start getting beat deep, we’ll play two deep Safeties and force him to make a tough throw. Nick Perry MAY see some increased play time in that situation to mix things up, but Vinnie should be capable. Also, expect to see Geno Smith play some snaps in relief of Jarrick Williams. He’s not going to be handed the job back, but this will give him a chance to prove himself, and keep fresher bodies on the field.

A&M’s lead Wideout is Redshirt Sophomore Mike Exans. Not initially you’d expect Deion Belue to matchup with the big 6’5″ WR, but do not be shocked if it’s John Fulton playing press on him. Fulton plays aggressive press coverage and will have a better chance than Belue at making Johnny Manziel look away from Evans, which could be to a guy that Belue is covering. I’m sure we’ll see Deion on Mike plenty, but I’ve got a strong feeling that it will be Fulton covering A&M’s number one target.

If Bama can do these things on defense, A&M won’t be very effective. They’re likely to still make a play or two, but I’m expecting an outstanding defensive performance.

My final prediction for this game is Bama 38, A&M 17. The Aggie defense isn’t good enough to stop the Bama offense, but the Bama defense is good enough to stop the A&M offense.

Don’t forget to tune in to CBS at 2:30pm Central time to catch the game, and I leave you with this quote.

“Now remember this, the game is over. You come back in the shower…you walk by the mirror. And only YOU…and the man in that mirror KNOWS if you did the best you could.”

– Paul William “Bear” Bryant