TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama defense has been asked about it all week: How do you stop Denard Robinson? How do you keep one man with so much talent down?
While coach Nick Saban and the rest of the defense conceded Robinson is a man to be reckoned with, cornerback Dee Milliner said it comes down to discipline.
"It's tough when you have a guy like him that's a run-pass quarterback back there," Milliner said. "If you don't contain him or you mess up on the line, he can take it the distance himself."
The discipline extends beyond just Robinson, though. As safety Robert Lester put it, you can't keep both eyes on the quarterback and expect to play good defense, especially in the secondary.
"We're gonna do our job," Lester said. "That's what we're supposed to do. If we've got to cover the slot guy, that's what we've got to go. We've got to trust that the D-line and linebackers will do their job and contain him and rush him."
If Lester or Milliner slips, Michigan has the receivers to make them pay. Wide receiver Roy Roundtree was an All-Big Ten selection his sophomore year, catching 73 passes for 953 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010. Said Milliner, there's more to the Wolverines on offense than their quarterback.
"He's surrounded by a bunch of great athletes," Milliner said. "You've got Roundtree, one of his great receivers. He's got a great line that's coming back that can help him out by keeping him protected.
"He's just surrounded by a bunch of guys that can make plays."
If Alabama can create a good pass rush it would mean a world of difference to the secondary. The more the line affects the quarterback, and the less time he has to make reads, the better, said Milliner.
"Any time you can get to the quarterback he can mess his pass up," Milliner said. "He might throw it faster than the receiver can get out of his routes so that can mess up the passing game. For me, if we get a good rush that would be great because that could be a pick for me."
Depth chart notables
When Alabama released its official depth chart on Tuesday there were a few surprises, one on each side of the ball. True freshman cornerback Geno Smith won the job as backup to Deion Belue and senior Kelly Johnson won the battle for starting H-back.
"He competes all the time," Milliner said of Smith. "The way he comes out there and goes about practicing. He wants to get better. He's urging himself, talking to himself. He comes to me when he needs help, and I try to help him out as much as I can."
Said center Barrett Jones of Johnson, "He's really done a good job stepping up for us in that role."
Johnson is a former walk-on that earned his way on special teams.
"He's a kid who works really hard and he's a great guy," Jones said. "He gives it up for his teammates. I think we all are very happy for him because we've seen the way he's worked over the last few years. Not many guys who are walk-ons make it to that level. I think he's doing a great job for us and I'm looking forward to seeing him play this year."
Jones on facing Big Ten defenses: "One thing you see out of a lot of defenses is they're very disciplined. ... They know their system and they run it really well. That's the same with Michigan. What they do, they do extremely well."
Jones on the offensive line: "We’ve got really good chemistry on this line. It’s something I really enjoy being a part of. We come from very different backgrounds. You got Chance and DJ, and then Steen is like really country. It’s just a funny kind of mix of people. But we all get along really well and really respect each other.."
Milliner on going to Cowboys Stadium: "It's going to be a great experience. I've never been there before so we're looking forward to going there. We know it's for a pro team so we're going to be happy to be there and compete and give the fans a great game."