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Alabama Football Impact Players

Why WR Gehrig Dieter will have the biggest impact for Alabama in CFB Playoff

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

He came to the Southeastern Conference in hopes to win a national championship, but his journey also consisted of being a dominant wide receiver. In developing timing with a true freshman quarterback, Gehrig Dieter hasn’t seen much of the ball toward his No. 11 uniform.

After being a 1,000-yard target at Bowling Green, the South Bend, Ind., native has served as more of a blocker in the run game and for his fellow receivers in open space. He’s cleared room to help Jalen Hurts (841, 12 touchdowns) and running back Damien Harris (983, two scores) near 1,000 yards rushing, however, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has started to look more his way in the passing game. Five of Dieter’s 14 receptions (35.7 percent) came during the last three games against Chattanooga, Auburn and Florida. Three of his four touchdowns occurred in meetings against the former and latter teams, moving him to four scores on the year.


Last season, it was Calvin Ridley that got things rolling in the College Football Playoff.

He ran wild through Michigan State’s secondary, amassing 138 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. The vibe shifted to tight end O.J. Howard in the following game against Clemson, as he set a bowl record with 208 yards and two scores on five catches in the national championship game.

With Chris Petersen’s love for preparation, Washington looks to take away either Ridley, Howard or ArDarius Stewart from Hurts. The Huskies will count it a plus if its secondary can lock down two of the three, but for the most part it has to force someone not named Ridley or Stewart to beat them. In reliving last year’s big dance, no one expected Howard to record the performance he had. After being underused throughout the regular season, the senior would register eight catches for 267 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Whether it was busted coverages from Michigan State and Clemson or Kiffin choosing to save Howard for postseason action, 44.4 percent of his 602 receiving yards came during the Playoff. Seeing this statistic bodes well for Dieter, due to the fact that a strong outing on Saturday could set him up for a monster title game.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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