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Alabama Panel: Vanderbilt week

A.J. McCarron has not been asked to do too much thus far this season. Will there be a game this season that McCarron’s arm will be the difference-maker? If so, when will it be and how do you think he will respond?

Jimmy McCrory: Yes, there will be a game where A.J. will be asked to throw more and be a difference maker. His confidence has grown in the first five games. He has not thrown an interception in the last 90-plus pass attempts. With the LSU game looming, it has the potential to be the game his arm could be the difference.

Jay Reynolds: First of all I think A.J. McCarron has been asked to do a lot and has responded well. He has thrown short routes well and been accurate across middle. His ability to manage the game by making proper calls has been important for success. If you are referring to a late drive through the air, I have confidence in his ability to throw the ball. However, I don’t think it will be needed anytime soon.

Roger Hoggle: I think every game A.J.’s arm is a difference maker. If he wasn’t able to complete throws, defense would stack the line and bring 8 or 9 guys to stuff the run. I believe the throw on 3rd down to Marquis Maze on the sideline against Florida last week showed that A.J. can put the ball in good spots for our receivers when he has to.

The Alabama defense held Rainey and Demps to a total of eight yards last week and have surrendered no more than 14 points in a game this year. Where does this defense rank against other Alabama defenses of previous years?

Jimmy McCrory: Right now, it is ranking high up there on some of the greats of all time in Alabama history, but there is a lot of football left in the season. This team has the talent and experience to achieve great things this season.

Jay Reynolds: Definitely Top 5 all-time at this point in the season

Roger Hoggle: You can’t compare defenses from one year to the next. Offenses have evolved over the years and every year there are new things being done that have never been done before. The one comparison I would make of this year to any previous year’s defense is the talent at every position. I think we have more talent at every position where in years past we might have great corners, or great backers, but not at all 11 positions like I see this year.

So far, Trent Richardson is Alabama’s second leading receiver. Do you feel the Tide will need someone else behind Marquise Maze to step up in the vertical passing game to continue to be successful? Please explain your answer.

Jimmy McCrory: Yes, someone will have to step up in this area to help improve the passing game. I think this will be done by committee at the receiver position.

Jay Reynolds: No, A.J.’s position as second string quarterback last year created comfortable connections to large group of receivers. He will continue to spread  the ball around to multiple receivers creating problems for those teams that try to key on one or two receivers

Roger Hoggle: We do have them, we just haven’t had to rely heavily on them yet. We will see the passing game expand to include other receivers as SEC play continues. More and more defenses will beef up to stop the run and we will see A.J. stretch the field more and more as the season goes on.

Vanderbilt has played surprisingly well on the defensive side of the ball this season. What kind of problems could Vandy create for the Alabama offense?

Jimmy McCrory: I don’t think Alabama will have a problem with Vandy. Alabama will continue to line up and play smash mouth football. Vandy does not have the talent set to play with Alabama at this point.

Jay Reynolds: Vandy has a strong secondary. However, Alabama will exploit Vandy’s run defense, forcing run support from the secondary, allowing the Tide to use passing game if needed. Vandy’s defense will wear down as Alabama has long sustained drives.

Roger Hoggle: As with any SEC team, the defenses are good week in and week out. They could be very difficult to throw on, but I think as the game goes on, their defensive line will tire and they will have to make adjustments to help stop the run and that will open up the downfield passing.

What is your prediction for the final score Saturday?

Jimmy McCrory: Alabama 45, Vanderbilt 10

Jay Reynolds: Tide 39, Vandy 6

Roger Hoggle: 48-3 Alabama