Saints Roman Harper has his Alabama gear packed for New Orleans' road trip to Tampa.
By JENNIFER HALEFS Southwest
Roman Harper will be locked in this Sunday on helping the Black and Gold defeat the Tampa Bay Bucs and start 2-0 for the first time since 2010, but Saturday, he'll be zeroed in on the Crimson and White.
Harper is a proud, vocal product of the University of Alabama, as any of his teammates can tell you. When asked about Bama's high profile clash with Texas A & M Saturday, Harper sounded as if he's been in team meetings with head coach Nick Saban and company.
"Roll tide, first and foremost," Harper began. "I'm looking forward to it. We know all the hype. I can assure you, Alabama is looking forward to it. We need to have it: we had a week off to really try and prepare for this game. We know exactly how they're going to be. I'm looking forward to the challenge of it. I'm going to be cheering, with all my crimson on, come Saturday."
Harper says the game hinges on whether Bama's offensive line steps up, which was arguably the Tide's weakest unit in the only game they've played this season.
"We really need to try to dominate these guys up front," Harper said. "This is the time for our offensive line to really shine, come together, get all the pressure off of themselves by going out there and having a big game."
In Harper's offensive game plan at least, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron should lean on play action and the ground attack early and often. Of course defense is Harper's specialty.
"I know defensively, we've got some different reads put in," Harper said. "We understand how we need to manage this quarterback - not just try and go hit this quarterback - but manage this quarterback. They lost their slot receiever too, the shorter guy last year, so we should be able to match up with these guys."
Texas A & M's embattled quarterback Johnny Manziel has proven to be a polarizing figure, unafraid of commanding the headlines and spotlight, regardless of the situation. That intrigues Harper.
"Ive got to see how this guy Johnny Manziel is going to do, with this whole Johnny cam he's going to have," Harper said. "He's a legit player. He's not as big as they say he is, but he's a legit player. I really like watching this guy, and I look forward to watching him on the next level too."
As much of a diehard Bama fan as he is, Harper isn't afraid to show Manziel some love.
"He's going to have some success. He's going to make plays Saturday, we all understand that. You're not going to shut down a kid like this," Harper said. "But at the end of the day, you need to be able to try and make more plays than him. You need to try and force a turnover somewhere in there, get some momentum early, and if we can get a lead, that always helps."
That's where Harper's benevolence ends for Manziel and the Aggies. He predicts the game will end with a score of 35-21, Alabama.