Tide working to replace leadership lost from 2012 squad
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Sep 24, 2013 | 2238 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Vinnie Sunseri has developed into one of the Tide's leaders. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama's Vinnie Sunseri has developed into one of the Tide's leaders. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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TUSCALOOSA -- The immense talent Alabama lost from last year’s team to the NFL draft or graduation gets the bulk of the headlines, but the vocal leadership should be part the story.

Guys like Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker on offense and Damion Square, Nico Johnson and Robert Lester on defense provided leadership the Crimson Tide has struggled to replace.

At SEC Media Days, Tide coach Nick Saban questioned whether someone would be able to step up to the challenge and lead the defense. Those questions still lingered after the Tide’s first two games, but that may have changed following the team’s lackluster performance in a 31-6 victory over Colorado State.

“I think it has, especially after the last game,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “We were pretty upset with the win we had, especially with the way we won. We felt we didn’t dominate.”

Reporters aren’t allowed into the locker room to check the pulse of the players, but Mosley pulled back the blinders and gave a glimpse of who the leaders on this team are.

“After coach Saban’s little speech, me, (quarterback) AJ (McCarron), (safety) Vinnie (Sunseri), we kind of said how we really felt,” Mosley said. “I started off because I was pretty upset, especially with the defense. The things we gave up were mental errors, just little things, just fundamental errors, so I felt like we’re about to play Ole Miss next week and about to start getting into SEC play.

“Those little things will get us beat bad, get us embarrassed so we’ve got to make sure everyone’s doing their job.”

What did McCarron and Sunseri say?

“They kind of just fed off what I said, just saying we’ve got to step it up, we’ve got to know what it takes basically to win these types of games that are coming up,” Mosley said.

Added tight end Brian Vogler: “There's a couple of guys on the team that you just sort of lock in on them when they’re talking. Guys like (C.J.) and AJ. They’ve been around for a while. They know how the system works, they’ve got a lot of success to their name, they’ve really made a really good brand for themselves as players. So when they say something, you sort of have to hone in on it and take what they say to heart.”

Despite having done a ton of interviews and other public appearances, Mosley remains quiet and reserved. But when he speaks, even the veterans on the team listen.

“Definitely, because he has that reputation of being quiet,” Tide linebacker Trey DePriest said. “So when he speaks, it’s felt. He doesn’t really say too much. He’s a quiet guy. When he’s got something to say, that means it needs to be said.”

Said right tackle Austin Shephard: “I think everybody’s reaction was just that we have to buy in. Pretty much buy in. All the guys have to do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it. And we’ve got to get it rolling.”

When asked if he felt the younger players listened to his message, Mosley’s tone quickly turned serious.

“They better. If not, they won’t be on the field,” he said. “Like I said, stuff like the DBs, they’ve responded well in practice the last few days. Can’t get no lower. They’re freshmen, they have a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to seeing them on the field.”

Mosley said no one has had to get in anyone’s face, which is a good thing.

“That’s one of the good things about our young guys,” Mosley said. “We don’t have to yell at them or scream at them besides the coaches when they mess up. Besides that, they want to learn, they want to be great, they want to help this team out. That’s the good thing about that.”
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