There is always a game with a game, things that happen that tell you much if you know what to look for. Here are some to look for Saturday.
What to Watch For in the Alabama – USC Game Saturday
By: Larry Burton
There is going to be a lot of things to watch that the casual fan may miss in Saturday’s Alabama vs USC matchup in Dallas. Knowing what to watch will tell you a lot. For example, keep up with the offensive center on the line.
Bradley Bozeman was slated to be the starter with J.C. Hassenauer and Josh Casher being third string. But I think it will be interesting to see if Ross Pierschbacher will actually slide over and do a little snapping on Saturday too from his guard spot. Seeing who is actually rotated in and out and how much they play will tell you what the real depth chart of that position really is.
You can also watch other offensive line substitutions to see how comfortable they are with the depth chart they provided the press earlier.
Secondly, many may not believe it, but Bo Scarbrough may not be the best running back on the team. Watch the yards per carry and you’ll see that Damien Harris may just continue to higher than Scarbrough’s. I think that’s a distinct possibility to continue.
Another star may have some unanticipated pressure to stay the number one at their position. Many fans have forgotten that star receiver Calvin Ridley only got the job because Robert Foster was injured. With Foster back and healthy, he may put up or could put up bigger numbers than Ridley. Certainly Ridley’s reputation will cause him to get a top cover man on him and that could help Foster all the more.
It’s also not out of the question that ArDarius Stewart could have a breakout game and we all know what tight end O.J. Howard is capable of after watching him in the national championship game. So keep up with the yardage and you may see another star rise and outdo Calvin Ridley.
On defense, again watch the substitutions. This starting lineup is the fastest in Tide history in the defensive front lines. Will Alabama substitute like last season when the second string was more like 1B than second string. Will new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt let these fast mean men play more snaps than last years starters? I suspect so, but time will tell.
Also on defense, Saban usually plays conservative defense at first and waits to see the mindset and ability of the quarterback. With a new quarterback due to start for USC, I think the defense will rush him early and often and try to rattle him from the very beginning.
Lastly, we now a fully healthy Adam Griffith and let me tell you what that will mean. Kickoffs will more often than not result in touchbacks. His leg will keep Alabama out of danger from kickoff returns. You’ll also see the possibility of longer field goal attempts because of Griffth’s good health.
And oh yes, it will also be interesting to see if Saban’s in midseason form when it comes to ranting and yelling. Will he start out and stay calm or lose it in that Saban style we’ve come to see? That will be fun to watch for too.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter