By Paul M. Banks
Alabama’s stellar defense is led by junior linebacker Rolando McClain. When you hear his name, you might first think of the protagonist from the Die Hard film series. He certainly has the same toughness and will to fight. The potential NFL 1st round draft pick was on conference call this week, and when asked about what his Coach Nick Saban instills in his defense, he didn’t reference Die hard, but another action series you might catch late night on HBO.
“It’s like we are a band of brothers out there. We don’t want to let the guy beside us down. I think that’s the important thing and that’s what he has put in us, we don’t want to let the guy beside us down. You don’t want to be that guy that messes up a play, because everybody has to be accountable for what they do on the field and accountability is what he’s taught us,” he said evoking memories of the late night series about a combat platoon.
McClain was asked is there are any linebackers in the NFL that he looks up to and admires. “I don’t really watch anybody in college, but I like to watch Ray Lewis when he plays. He brings a lot of intensity to the game, he’s a great leader and lot of guys look up to him, and I am one of those guys,” he responded on conference call Tuesday. So is Lewis his role model? “I’m not really sure what he does outside of football. I have my own things that I like to do. I just like the way he plays on the field,” McClain said.
Everyday in practice McClain goes against a Heisman trophy candidate in tailback Mark Ingram. He described the experience. “It’s not that bad. I go against him a lot, I would say. We have somewhat of an agreement, I won’t try to kill him every time I hit him, and he won’t try and run me over. I’d say it’s not that bad.” Of course, the Crimson tide running backs corps is pretty talented overall. “I guess it’s helped me a lot just going up against a very good back, a very good SEC back, a very powerful, very strong and very fast back. I think that’s helped me some in my game, and I am sure going against us has helped him. I don’t know, it just prepares me for some of the opponents I face in the SEC,” McClain articulated.
It will be a huge week for McClain and company as they face a top ten team in LSU, with a high powered offense. He described what he will see on the other side of the scrimmage line Saturday.
“They are just like any other LSU team. They are very physical up front. They like to run the ball. I think this year, more than last year, they have a dual-threat quarterback. If he’s given time in the pocket, he can make plays with his arm. We have to play sound defense against these guys. They are very good and they are well coached. I have watched some film, I think (Brandon) LeFell and some of those guys have done a great job thus far this year. I think the speedy receiver/running back number eight – Holiday – comes in and adds a different element to their passing game. The quarterback, he manages the game with little turnovers. If think when given time that offense can be deadly.”
It should certainly be the game of the week.