Mosley Sees More Of Football Field

A year ago, Dont'a Hightower and Nico Johnson were considered the starting inside linebackers, even though C.J. Mosley started six games as Alabama frequently opened in nickel defense. This year Mosley is seen much more as a regular.

Alabama junior linebacker C.J. Mosley is doing more to stay on the field this year. Of course, Hightower has gone to the NFL, which means that instead of sharing time with Hightower and Nico Johnson, Mosley shares time with Johnson and Trey DePreist. More important than the competition, however, is the work Mosley has done to be a better player and a better leader.

Alabama is 4-0 this season and ranked first in the nation. After each game, Bama coaches select players of the week on offense, defense, and special teams. Mosley is the only player who has been selected all four weeks.

He'll be going for five in a row this week when the Tide hosts Ole Miss at 8:15 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Rebels are off to a good start, 3-1. ESPN will televise the Southeastern Conference game.

Mosley said, "I'm just trying to stay on the field as much as possible, and when I do, I'm just trying to make plays when I can, just to help the team, just to keep the defense going and the team going. To be player of the week four times in a row is an honor, but that's not really a thing that bothers me too much, if I do or don't get it. It's all about just staying consistent and doing my job on the field."

The 6-2, 232-pound Theodore product said he has become more mature.

"It's my third year in the defense, so I basically know everything in and out," he said. "I'm taking each game at a time, watching more film, growing up and taking a bigger role."

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, "C.J. does a really good job. He's very athletic, fast, very instinctive. He's really a playmaker type of guy as well. With all the spread-out formations that we've played against to this point, he's had a lot of opportunities to make plays and he's made a lot of plays."

Mosley is Alabama's leading tackler with 29 tops (15 primary, 14 assists) and has also been in on two sacks resulting in 14 yards in losses. He has also broken up a pass and forced a fumble.

And as part of what has become a Mosley special, he has an interception, which he returned for a touchdown against Michigan. It was his third touchdown with an intercepted pass, equaling the record of Antonio Langham (1990-93).

Saban noted, "He's learned since he's been here to fit the run a little bit better and does a good job in that regard. He's gotten a little bigger, a little stronger. He's always been a really good athlete and a space player."

Mosley said he had been trying to tell his coach he could play the run, and now he has shown him. "So hopefully I'll stay on the field more," he said.

The Saban defense has a reputation of being complicated. Mosley said it began to click for him aboud mid-season of his freshman year in 2009. He attributed it to "getting a lot of reps in practice, and then when I started getting more playing time as a freshman, I got of got the hang of things. Sometimes you've got to mess up in a game to get a lot of things."

Four-year starting safety Robert Lester said Mosley "is a guy who is a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident. Last year he was kind of timid and not really after it, but he's a guy who has really taken charge of the defense; he knows what is going on. He wants to go out there and make plays, and that's what he has been doing."

Senior efensive end Damion Square said, "C.J. is awesome, man. C.J. is one of those guys that I haven't seen before. He has great athletic ability, he escapes a lot of situations that a lot of guys can't escape. And he does things, you know, he just pops up when the ball is thrown to the flats. And he finds the end zone some type of way. Every year he's been here, he finds out how to get to the end zone in big games and big situations. So C.J. is a great player. He got recruited to come here and be a great player and he's living up to it."

Square that in addition to being an all-around better player, Mosley has become a leader. "He's talking more," Square said. "I guess it's hard to do that as a freshman or a sophomore with the great guys we've had on our defense, to be a leader. But he understands that we need him to lead. because we have a lot of young guys that has to fill some spots. And he has a lot of playing experience. So he's talking more and he's demanding more from our defense. And guys are listening, because they respect what he does on Saturday."

Mosley takes the leadership role seriously.

He said he is "more into it in the games, kind of telling the team to keep going, tell the defense keep it up, things like that. And in practice and as far as like meetings, and me being on the leadership team for the second year. I got on it my first year and I really didn't say too much. But I'm kind of voicing my opinion more. That's just things I have to do to maintain my status as one of the older players."

He said his role on the leadership team is "basically, holding the team to a standard and keeping yourself accountable to a standard. We only will go as far as the leadership will take us and as far as the followers keep us going. We've got to keep everybody accountable and make sure we're doing our job fully."

On the field this week, Bama will be facing an Ole Miss team that is likely to use a no-huddle offense, two quarterbacks (Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti) who can run, and a read-option offense.

Mosley said the defense against no huddle is difficult to simulate in practice, and so it's important for players to know their assignments and get into the right position as soon as the defensive call is made. "We call it red ball," he said. "As far as defense, we just basically ‘muddle huddle,' where everybody kind of gets in hisposition so they won't be running all over the field once they get ready."

Alabama played against a read-option in the Michigan game. Mosley said, "As a defense, we've got to be ready for things like that. We worked on it during camp and actually did it during spring ball. We kind of practice on other teams so when the time comes we have some film on what we need to do and what we need to improve on."

And, he said, "Playing teams like that, Michigan, early in the season, it kind of gives us a hint on what they're going to do. A lot of teams copycat. So plays we might have messed up on, they might do. We've just got to be ready for whatever they do."

Mosley was asked about the legacy he wants to leave.

He said, "I just want them to remember that as much as I was a great player on the field, I was also a great player and person. Just me staying humble and just thanking God every day for the position I'm in. And giving me the ability to play at the level I play. Hopefully, it'll keep going up. I just want people to know that even though I'm a great player I'm a great person, too."

BamaMag Top Stories