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November 9, 2012

Players to Watch: Texas A&M

Take a closer look at the players who are expected to have a major impact when the Tide and the Aggies take the field.

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
AJ McCarron
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-4 Weight: 210 Class: Junior
Key stat: McCarron has completed two-thirds of his pass attempts to average 205.4 yards per game with 19 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Buzz: Quarterbacks aren't measured by statistics. They are remembered for winning games, and McCarron has lost only once as Alabama's starter. When Nick Saban talks about game management, he's talking about how McCarron handled the game-winning drive at LSU, and it's a compliment.

Michael Williams
Position: Tight end
Height: 6-6 Weight: 269 Class: Senior
Key stat: Williams made a career-high five receptions two weekends ago against Mississippi State, and has 26 catches for 114 yards and three touchdowns on the season.
Buzz: Williams is not only a guy who can move the chains when he gets the right defensive matchup, he is also the forgotten member of Alabama's offensive line. Williams brings a big, strong body that adds to Alabama's ability to block for the run or protect against the pass rush. He's not the kind of player who gets a lot of accolades, but he's a major contributor.

Robert Lester
Position: Safety
Height: 6-2 Weight: 210 Class: Senior
Key stat: Lester has intercepted three passes to lead an Alabama pass defense that has 14 total interceptions on the season. He has also made 24 tackles, including 2.5 behind the line of scrimmage, and broken up three passes.
Buzz: Lester has a knack for being in the right place, and that's where he will need to be in this contest. Lester will provide pass coverage support, as usual, but he will also be needed to keep an eye on Johnny Manziel to make sure Texas A&M's elusive quarterback doesn't go all the way when he scrambles.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES
Johnny Manziel
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 Class: Freshman
Key stat: Manziel has rushed for 102.4 yards per game and 6.7 yards per carry, and most of those yards have come on scrambles. He has also completed two-thirds of his pass attempts for an average of about 281 yards per game.
Buzz: "Johnny Football" has been sensational in his young career, at times making opposing defenses look like they're playing in slow motion. Alabama will want to contain him and make him a pure pocket passer to limit his ability to freelance.

Damontre Moore
Position: Defensive lineman
Height: 6-4 Weight: 250 Class: Junior
Key stat: Moore leads the SEC and is tied for second nationally in sacks, averaging 1.31 per game - more than 19 teams. He has made 19 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Buzz: Moore can run like a deer and makes plays all over the field. He presents a major challenge as a rusher off the edge and can disrupt an opponent's passing game with his ability to get to the quarterback. Moore has made 69 total stops, so he has also been able to be effective against the run. Alabama will need to account for him on every play.

Luke Joeckel
Position: Left tackle
Height: 6-6 Weight: 310 Class: Junior
Key stat: Joeckel and Jake Matthews are one of the top tackle tandems in the country.
Buzz: Joeckel is making his 35th consecutive start, dating back to his freshman season. He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last year while playing on a line that gave up just nine sacks all season. Joeckel has made a smooth transition into Kevin Sumlin's fast-paced offense and adds a dimension of physicality to A&M's attack. Joeckel will need to protect quarterback Johnny Manziel and open holes for the running game.


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