With the national championship upon us, we try to take a final look at some of the players that will need to have an impact in Monday night’s game in order for the Crimson Tide to come out on top. Players like Derrick Henry and Reggie Ragland will likely get their production as they have in most games but it is what Alabama can get from the other players that could be the key to success. We take a look at one player on each unit that could make or break the game for the Tide.
WR ArDarius Stewart
Stewart was used early and often in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve, helping the Tide roll to a 38-0 win. His abilities are not doubted and he has became a perfect number two receiver to Calvin Ridley. However, the consistency questions will still stand at least one more game. Stewart’s touchdowns against Auburn and Florida helped stretch leads for the Crimson Tide despite poor offensive showings. If Stewart can go out and make big plays, Alabama should be in good shape to have the offense performance they need against Clemson. Whether it be on the jet sweeps or the corner routes, Stewart needs to make sure he has a game like the fourth quarter of Tennessee rather than the fourth quarter of Ole Miss.
CB Marlon Humphrey
This redshirt freshman has had a great season and has been more than fans could have asked for from the team’s number two cornerback. The key to the game on Monday night will be making sure fans are not yelling at their televisions to “TURN YOUR HEAD!” Humphrey is dealing with the same issues that Cyrus Jones had early in his career and they are very fixable. However, Deshaun Watson and the Clemson offense is good enough, the Tide do not need to give them free 15-yard penalties on any back shoulder fade route. Humphrey had interceptions against Florida, Mississippi State and Georgia this season which were three of the Tide’s best defensive performances.
P J.K. Scott
You never want your team’s punter to be a major factor in the game because you’d probably rather him not take the field at all. However, this game will have defensive stops in it and it will be up to J.K. Scott and the punt coverage team to make sure the strong Clemson offense has a long way between them and the endzone to start every drive. Everyone knew about the slow start the sophomore punter had but he has been back to what fans expected over the last few weeks. He has averaged at least 45.0 yards per punt in seven of his last eight games with a punt, including averaging 48.7 yards per punt over the last three games.
Caleb Turrentine is a contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter,@CalebTurrentine.