Countdown to kickoff: 90

From now until kickoff in Arlington, Texas, we'll be counting down the days before Alabama and Michigan get the season started. Today, we move to No. 90 and what it means to UA football.

Today we'll take a break from the history lessons and statbook, and instead look at No. 90 on the current Alabama football roster. Well, both of them.

This season could be make or break years for Jeremy Shelley and Quinton Dial. The pair of No. 90s couldn't have more different roles but both will be vital to this team's success.

Shelley eased much of the pressure on him when he made five field goals against LSU in the national championship game. Prior to that moment of relief, many were calling for incoming freshman Adam Griffith to get to campus early and save the floundering kicking game. Shelley and fellow place kicker Cade Foster had trouble nailing even the most mundane of field goals before the BCS title game, ending the regular season 18-29 on field goal attempts and finishing last in the SEC with five touchbacks.

Responding against LSU did a lot to quell those fears, but it didn't change the fact that Griffith is still coming to town. The heavy-legged kicker from Calhoun, Ga., enters as a top-10 prospect at his position and could challenge both Shelley and Foster with a good spring.

For Dial, the time to step up is now. The senior who took the junior college route to Tuscaloosa had just one sack and 24 tackles last season in a reserve role, and is poised to challenge for a starting position this season.

At 6-foot-6, 304 pounds, he stands a chance at having a breakout season for the Tide. With Jesse Williams packing the middle, it should free up rushing lanes for Dial and the rest of the defensive ends.