When the Alabama Crimson Tide opens the season Saturday night, the Tide will look to replicate their success against scrambling quarterbacks in their showdown Denard Robinson of the Michigan Wolverines.
Robinson is without question one of the best athletes in college football, rushing for nearly 1200 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011. Unfortunately for Michigan, Robinson plays quarterback and when it came to throwing the football last season he finished with a Tebowesque 55% completion percentage.
A less than average passer, Robinson has made a living under center with his ability to keep defenses on their toes with his ability to take off in hurry. However, as Michigan may soon find out, a scrambling quarterback may play right into the hands of Alabama.
Whether it be Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor (10 carries, -26 yards) in 2009, Cam Newton in 2010 (22 carries, 39 yards) or Jordan Jefferson in 2011 (25 carries, 58 yards), Nick Saban and Kirby Smart have found ways to neutralize athletic, scrambling quarterbacks.
Much of Alabama’s success against scrambling quarterbacks can be attributed to the speed of their linebacking corps. Against the aforementioned quarterbacks Alabama had the likes of Rolando McClain and Courtney Upshaw keeping those elusive playmakers in check. This year, Xzavier Dickson and Adrian Hubbard, two of the most athletic playmakers on the Tide defense, will try to replicate the success of their predecessors.
Not only does Alabama have the personnel to handle Robinson, they will also have the perfect person to imitate Michigan’s playmaker in Blake Sims
Sims spent his freshman season finding carries at running back; however, he has been working with the quarterbacks throughout the fall. Just like Robinson, Sims is also a gifted athlete in his own right who could mimic the Michigan quarterback’s speed while still keeping the defense honest with an ability to throw the ball down field.
Denard Robinson has made a career of running away from defenses, but come Saturday Alabama’s personnel and scout team may give them exactly what they need to stop Robinson dead in his tracks.