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August 27, 2012TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama coaching staff many have only just begun introducing players to Michigan last week, but quarterback AJ McCarron has seen plenty more of the Wolverines on his own.
The junior quarterback, along with many other UA players, log hours watching film on their own time. McCarron has seen so much Michigan film, he probably looked around for popcorn.
"Summer, I broke everybody down. I kind of work with one of our GAs, Jeff Norrid. He helps me a bunch. He knows everything there is about defense," McCarron said. "Through the summer, we broke each opponent down week by week but probably in the past two, two-and-a-half weeks, we've watched ton of film on (Michigan). Me and him are up here at least 3 1/2, four hours a day. We'll come an hour or so before practice and then the rest after. So we've done a tremendous amount of breaking them down."
The Wolverines return eight starters -- including all its linebackers and defensive backs -- from a 2011 defense that ranked No. 17 in the nation at 322 yards per game.
Michigan's preseason task on defense has been to replace three lost starters on its defensive line.
UA coach Nick Saban said the Wolverines' third down defense is what he called "pro style."
McCarron said, more than anything, means complex attempts to confuse the quarterback.
"They like to do a bunch of crazy things, try to confuse you," he said. "They'll spread everybody out, walk them around. Show different one way, blitz another. Do a bunch of different things, but I feel like our coaching staff has done a really good job of breaking them down, what they like to do. I guess we'll see what else they have in store for us come Saturday."
Michigan's defense is led by fifth-year senior Kenny Demens, who has made 20 career starts at ?middle linebacker. Demens led Michigan with 94 tackles a season ago, and is approaching 200 for his career.
McCarron said he doesn't expect the Wolverines to do much different than they did a year ago defensively against the Crimson Tide.
"They're Michigan. They're not going to change what they do," McCarron added. "Any time you play a big-time program like that, they know what they do and they know what they're capable of and they're going to do it. You've got to stop them."
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.