Square Appreciates Extra Practice Time
Guess what? Damion Square, captain of the Alabama defense, does just that sometimes.
Square said, "Sometimes I sit on the couch and think, 'Here we go again.' I guess I'm happy to be this guy instead of another guy wishing. It's great to be a part of this organization and what's happened over the five years I've been here. Just having another opportunity to go on another bowl trip and do some great things in Miami throughout the week and go play the last game of college football at the end of the week is going to be fantastic."
And then he watches videotape of Notre Dame and the fine quarterback of the Fighting Irish, Everett Golson, and the reverie zooms to reality.
"He rolls around," Square said of Golson. "He's usually playing on the other side of the field a lot whether it's a boot or something. He doesn't throw the ball out of bounds or anything like that. He just continues to roll with his feet and make plays for his team. He's pretty accurate on the run, also. He throws a very, very good across-the-field fade route. He's a great player."
Square and his Bama teammates are in Tuscaloosa working out for the next few days and then will head to South Florida for the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame on Jan. 7. Alabama is 12-1 and ranked second in the nation, Notre Dame 12-0 and ranked first.
Golson has earned the respect of the Alabama defense. He completed 166 of 282 passes (58.9 per cent) for 2,135 yards and 11 touchdowns with only five interceptions. He also had 89 rushes for 305 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns.
Square said it would be crucial that the defensive line put pressure on Golson. "It's big for our secondary," he said. "You never want a quarterback to get a five-step drop and have a guy wide open with no pressure in his face. That's what you do as a d-lineman. You get your hands up and pressure the B-gaps to get the quarterback so he is not able to set up in the pocket and make the perfect throw. That's big time to get him off the timing."
Square said the extra practice for a bowl game – the Tide will have had 15 workouts, including the day-before-game walk-through – is helpful to getting back to game shape.
"Things will become habit, hopefully, and that's a good thing," said the 6-3, 286-pound defensive end. "You go out and practice against the schemes that they're doing and you're trying to make good habits so in the game it comes to react, you can react in a good way. That's what these two weeks are about -- doing things right, focusing on the footwork, the plays, the little things coach is telling you to lock in on so in the game when the pressure comes you do those things out of habit because out there on the field there's no thinking it's just reacting."
During the season, Square was in on 33 tackles including four for 14 yards in losses and four sacks, broke up a pass, and had a team-high nine quarterback pressures. The Houston native also had a fumble recovery.
Part of being successful in pass rush, Square said, is "Just staying put. Stay where you need to be. Pass rush is a collective thing. You can't have one guy running around blocks and stuff like that because it opens up lanes and creates bad things on the back end. As a pass rusher you have to have great understanding of where guys are at and you pass rush accordingly. If you have the double-team, most likely you're not going to be the guy to make that play so you swallow up the double-team so the other guys can get their one-on-one blocks and make things happen.
"Always in a bowl game, things happen that happened in practice. As a player, you like that. You like to line up and see a guy go in motion, a guy give away something you saw on film and things like that. That's what happens all the time when you have two weeks to practice for an opponent. You see them so much you recognize things better. You get to play the game a little faster. You get to move a little quicker because you're almost positive what they're going to do on that play because you've been watching it for almost a month. So that's the great part about having this long period of time to prepare for an opponent. You see things over and over and over again and the percentages go up for keys being true."
Alabama suffered one loss in 2012 and it was to a Texas A&M team that featured Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, a very mobile player who made big plays out of seemingly busted pass plays. Square was asked if the experience of playing against Manziel would help against Golson.
"We all know what type of player Manziel is," Square said. "The guy is great. This guy is similar to him, too. He keeps his eyes downfield, not staring at the rush. He sees guys out of his peripheral. He never stares down the d-linemen and he gets the ball downfield. They're similar in what they do."
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