Defense: From solid to star

Hubbard will be one of the key players in UA's matchup with Texas A&M.

Five Alabama defenders who need to take their games to another level in 2013:

OLB Adrian Hubbard
What he's done to date: After seeing time as a reserve in 2011, Hubbard started 13 games for the 2012 national champions, leading the Crimson Tide in sacks (seven) and tackles for loss (11).
What's needed from him moving forward: Hubbard posted sacks in each of UA's final three games of the 2012 campaign so some carryover would be nice, especially with Virginia Tech (Logan Thomas) and Texas A&M (Johnny Manziel) serving as the Crimson Tide's first two opponents on the 2013 slate. Entering his fourth year in the program, Hubbard, who looked more like a power forward when he arrived at UA in 2010, should be physically equipped to handle the run as well as the pass.

ILB Trey DePriest
What he's done to date: Ranked as the Crimson Tide's second-leading tackler in his first season as a starter, tallying 59 total stops in 14 games.
What's needed from him moving forward: With Nico Johnson moving on, DePriest will look to shed the platoon label and add more base defense duties to his workload. That shouldn't be a problem for the junior, who has the size and athleticism needed to play in any package. More than anything, the defense could use more big plays from DePriest, who finished the 2012 season with four tackles for loss and zero sacks.

DE Jeoffrey Pagan
What he's done to date: Along with Quinton Dial, factored as one of the first defensive ends off the bench in 2012, posting 23 total tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
What's needed from him moving forward: Dial, Damion Square and Jesse Williams have left the building so now would seem to be the time for Pagan to take his place as a starter up front. At 290 pounds, the true junior can play end in the three-man front or inside in the four-man front. Should present an upgrade in play-making ability at the position.

S HaHa Clinton-Dix
What he's done to date: Was at his best down the stretch of the 2012 season, recording interceptions in each of Alabama's final three games. Posted 37 tackles and four pass breakups while making 10 starts as a true sophomore.
What's needed from him moving forward: After seeing time mostly in UA's nickel and dime packages a season ago, Clinton-Dix will be an every down guy in 2013. Has great range and ball skills. Now, with Robert Lester moving on, we'll find out if he's capable of running the show in the secondary.

CB Deion Belue
What he's done to date: Started all 14 games in 2012, posting 40 tackles, including 6.5 for loss, two interceptions and seven pass breakups. Also returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown against Western Carolina.
What's needed from him moving forward: No longer in the shadow of Dee Milliner, Belue will be counted on to lock things down on the perimeter. After a respectable junior campaign, Belue should show signs of continued improvement following his second run through the Crimson Tide's offseason program. Given the void Milliner leaves behind, it will interesting to see if UA continues with the boundary (Milliner)/field (Belue) approach it took with last year's corners or if it will return to the left/right approach it previously employed.

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