September 16, 2006

Scalici: Five on the spot

Last week, several players stepped up their game against Vanderbilt while others left something to be desired in their performances. These are the five Crimson Tide players that must step their games up this week for Game 3 against Louisiana-Monroe.

Chris Capps - Perhaps no other Tide player has undergone more public criticism than the sophomore right tackle. Many feel Capps isn't getting the job done and that his lack of production in the running game has made the strong side of the line anything but strong. Capps needs a strong performance this week to prove that he can be a strength on the right side rather than the weak link in the chain.

Kenneth Darby - Whether it's mental hurdles or a nagging hip injury, something has been holding the senior tailback up the first two weeks of the season. Darby began the season on a quest to become the Tide's most productive rusher of all time but so far has yet to pass the 100 yard mark for the season. If Darby or the Tide offense hope to have any semblance of a good season, this needs to be the week Darby leaves his troubles behind.

The Alabama linebackers - The Warhawks two chief offensive weapons will both fall under the jurisdiction of the Tide linebacking corps. Quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster can do some damage running the ball and his primary passing target is tight end Zeek Zacharie. If the Tide hopes to contain the Warhawks offense, the linebackers must keep a lid on these two playmakers.

Roy Upchurch - ULM is the type of game third-stringers circle on their calendars and from listening to Mike Shula during the week, freshman running back Upchurch will likely be a high priority for seeing some reps during clean-up duty in Saturday's game. Upchurch needs to make the most of his carries and show the team that he has the moves and the speed to compete for the starting spot next season.

The Tide's offensive coaching staff - Though the Tide's offensive woes are likely the result of some early season wrinkles that have yet to be ironed out, the Tide coaches must take some of the blame for Alabama's two less-than-inspiring performances to open the season. With an easily manageable opponent this week, the Tide coaching staff have an opportunity to showcase just how good Alabama's offense can be with the right blend of execution and playcalling. A good enough show could inspire more confidence from the fans and from the pollsters than would another narrow, grind-out victory over an unimpressive opponent.

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