Five Alabama players who need to solidify their starting roles against Middle Tennessee State:
1) Jacob Coker
The Crimson Tide's signal caller had an impressive starting debut for Alabama against Wisconsin, connecting for some big chunks of yardage while keeping his night against Wisconsin turnover-free. While MTSU isn't expected to provide much resistance to Alabama on the scoreboard, Coker still needs to make some strides in his recognition and decision-making against the Blue Raiders. A step backward for Coker would be coupled with an increased opportunity for Cooper Bateman.
2) Adam Griffith
The Alabama kicker was 0-for-2 in the season opener, kicking in a dome sans a wind factor at that. His struggle against Wisconsin was carried over from inconsistency last season, and Griffith is in dire need of some confidence before UA opens its SEC schedule against Ole Miss in week three. If Alabama's offense has its way in the red zone, however, he'll be kicking PAT's rather than field goals -- at least while the starters are in.
3) Alphonse Taylor
According to Crimson Cover sources, the right guard position remains far from settled. Taylor got the start against Wisconsin, but Bradley Bozeman's push for the role is ongoing. Don't be surprised if MTSU blitzes frequently, which can be challenging for a new starter regardless of MTSU's level of competition. Whether Taylor plays well or not, Bozeman could see action a series or two before the rest of the second line.
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4) O.J. Howard
After a strong three-catch performance in the opener, which included some impressive blocks, this isn't the time for the junior to fade back into being the offense's forgotten man. Not with Ole Miss looming on Sept. 19. Coker (and Bateman, for that matter) need Howard to be a consistent target all season.
5) Marlon Humphrey
The freshman cornerback will have to earn his role on a weekly basis as much or more than any Crimson Tide starter this season. Keep in mind, Humphrey is manning the same position that Alabama's coaching staff shuffled Eddie Jackson, Tony Brown and even a brief look at Bradley Sylve last year. Brown could find himself in the lineup quickly if Humphrey isn't consistently effective, so it's critical that Humphrey tighten his hold on the job a week before the Ole Miss game.