Alabama has some adjustments it needs to make in order to get its revenge against Texas A&M, the only team to beat the Crimson Tide in 2012. That starts with figuring out a way to slow down Johnny Manziel, who made Alabama's defense look unusually human in the Aggies' 29-24 upset in November.
If Alabama is able to do a better job of limiting Manziel, linebacker C.J. Mosley probably will be a big reason why -- he fully expects to serve as Manziel's spy Saturday, paying the Heisman winner special attention throughout the contest.
"In the SEC you don't spy too many quarterbacks," Mosley said after Wednesday's practice. "It's a honor to spy a Heisman Trophy winner, so I have to do my job and the defense as well. We just have to execute."
Asked to clarify if he would be Alabama's main spy on Manziel, Mosley said, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's me."
Nick Saban wouldn't confirm that this is Alabama's plan, but he added that Mosley is as good a man for the job as anybody else on the defense. There is little doubt about that -- Mosley was the Crimson Tide's leading tackler last season, and he has been a productive member of the defense since stepping foot on campus in 2010.
He finished the 2012 season with plenty of accolades, including first-team All-American honors, and he capped the season with a strong effort in the BCS title game. All of which made him an easy pick for SB Nation's preseason All-America team.
The task ahead of him is difficult for anybody, though. Manziel ran for 92 yards on 18 carries against Alabama last season, leading the Aggies to more than 160 rushing yards as a team. That was most yardage on the ground any opponent managed against Alabama's defense all season; only three Tide opponents managed to crack 100 yards.
But when the Aggies were actually handing the ball off to their running backs, they weren't particularly effective. Despite Manziel's 5+ average per carry, they finished with an average of 3.6 yards per carry as a team. Ben Malena was limited to 3.6 yards per rush, and Christine Michael was even less effective. This is one reason why Mosley -- or whomever occupies the spy role -- is going to be crucial. If Manziel isn't throwing the defense out of sorts by getting out of the pocket and picking up yardage, the Tide have a much better chance of limiting the Aggies' running game, and in turn, their offense.