2009 CFN Alabama Preview |
2009 Bama Offense
2009 Bama Defense |
2009 Bama Depth
2008 Bama Preview |
2007 Bama Preview |
What you need to know:
Forgetting for a moment how the
defense didn't wake up against Utah until it was too late, 2008
was a special season against the run and this season the
defensive front should be even better. Terrance Cody should be a
starting anchor in the NFL right now, while linebackers Rolando
McClain and Dont'a Hightower will soon be there. The front three
in the 3-4 is huge with tackle-sized players at each spot, and
that includes the backups, while the fantastic linebacking
corps, a major strength after being a concern going into last
year, will clean everything up. The secondary is functional and
will put up nice overall stats, but the better passing teams
should be able to move the ball considering the front seven
doesn't generate much pressure.
Tackles: Rolando McClain, 95
Sacks: Brandon Deaderick, 4
Interceptions: Justin Woodall, 4
Star of the defense: Senior DT Terrence Cody
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior DE
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore S Robby Green
Best pro prospect: Cody
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Cody, 2) LB Rolando
McClain, 3) LB Dont'a Hightower
Strength of the defense: Run Defense, Young Prospects
Weakness of the defense: Pass Rush, Good Passing Teams
Senior Terrence Cody
should be in the NFL right now, and he could be a top 20 pick next year
if he gets in better shape. "Mount Cody" is on his way getting down from
380 pounds to around 365 and he should be a sure-thing All-America
performer if he can stay healthy. Last year's superstar JUCO transfer is
a rock of a tackle and is a true anchor on the nose, finishing his first
year with 34 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. It's not about stats for
Cody; it's about being impossible to run around him. He's the main
reason the run defense is so strong.
Able to work on either the nose or on the
end will be Lorenzo Washington, who made 13
tackles as a key reserve and spot starter. At 6-5 and 275
pounds, he's a quick tackle and a strong end in the 3-4, but
he's not a pass rusher generating just one sack and 2.5 tackles
for loss. His job will be to hold up against the run from a spot
on the end.
Working at the other end will once again be
Brandon Deaderick, a 6-4, 287-pound force who
came up with 36 tackles, four sacks, and 5.5 tackles for loss.
Surprisingly quick for his size, he's a big, tough pass rusher
with tremendous strength to matchup well with most tackles. He'd
be a good tackle in a 4-3, but he's perfect for the Bama system
and will be counted on to be the team's steadiest end. It has
taken three years, but now he might finally grow into a star.
Projected Top Reserves:
Sophomore Josh Chapman is one of
the team's biggest linemen at 6-1 and 305 pounds and able to
step in behind Cody on the nose and as a second tackle if the D
goes into a 4-3. He's ridiculously strong with enough experience
to step in and produce whenever needed after making 16 tackles
and four tackles for loss.
6-3, 299-pound junior
Luther Davis is an end working behind Deaderick after
making 12 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss. A top recruit a few
years ago, he has yet to come close to live up to his hype and
potential, but he's been caught up a bit in the depth chart
traffic. He has the ability be a run stopper in the rotation,
but he's not a pass rusher.
is a 6-3, 280-pound emerging talent on the end coming
off a get-the-feet-wet true freshman season making four tackles.
Extremely quick for his size, he should eventually become a pass
rusher with more work. He's not a speed rusher by any means, but
he has a nice combination of skills working behind Washington.
Watch Out For ... Dareus. Small for this line, he
has a bit more quickness than the rest of the big tackles spread
across the front. He's not going to be a starter, but he could
be the type of situation pass rusher who can make a big play
happen here and there.
Strength: Size and run stuffing ability. Bama has
three tackles playing across the front and no one will be able
to consistently run on this group. Not only are the starters
big, but there are big bodies all across the depth chart with
plenty of size to be infused to keep everyone fresh.
Weakness: Pass rushers. There isn't anyone who
can consistently get to the quarterback, meaning the outside
linebackers have to get into the backfield or else quarterbacks
will get plenty of free time to work.
Outlook: The 3-4 worked and it should be a brick
wall against the run again. There won't be much in the way of
pressure generated, but holding up against anyone with a ground
game won't be a problem. This is a big, physical line that
should beat up most offensive fronts. Outside of Cody, this
won't be a great group of talents, but it'll be tremendously
A steadying force in the linebacking
corps in the beginning of last year, 6-4, 249-pound junior
Rolondo McClain turned out to be a special all-star
leading the team with 95 tackles with three sacks and 12 tackles
for loss in the middle. Very tough, very fast, and one of the
team's surest tacklers, he has started to live up to his immense
prep hype and now should be on the short list all All-America
linebackers. Not only is he tough against the run, and with
great range, but he's solid when the ball is in the air with
eight broken up passes.
was a superstar recruit last year and he turned out to live up
to all the hype. At 6-4 and 250 pounds he has decent size, and
he was great at getting all over the field making 64 tackles
with 2.5 tackles for loss. A tremendous hitter who always seemed
to come up with the key stop, he should be an all-star for the
next few years working on the weakside. Now he needs to start
doing more in pass coverage and use his speed to get into the
backfield on a more regular basis.
Reamer is a former safety who works at the strongside
position, doing a little of everything on the outside. With
excellent range, he can play either outside position and has
grown into a good defender after starting out his career as a
star special teamer. At 6-4 and 218 pounds he's not huge, but
he's a good tackler with 35 stops last year with a sack and six
tackles for loss.
Senior Brandon Fanney
turned into a major playmaker as the team's third leading
tackler at the Jack position making 66 tackles with a sack and
nine tackles for loss. At 6-4 and 257 pounds, he has good size
and the burst to be a more dangerous pass rusher. Now he has to
get back into everyone's good graces after being suspended this
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Courtney
Upshaw had a nice true freshman season making 22
tackles as a special teams star and a strong backup linebacker.
Good at the Jack position, he'll combine with Eryk Anders and
Brandon Fanney in the rotation, but at 6-2 and 230 pounds he's
big enough to play anywhere in the corps. A monster hitter,
he'll make several highlight pops.
Eryk Anders was mostly been a special teamer, but he
was a key reserve last season at the Jack position and has the
potential to be a dangerous pass rusher. The veteran made 24
tackles with 2.5 sacks with 4.5 tackles for loss with six
quarterback hurries, and now he'll be turned loose into the
backfield using his quickness and his experience to be a
6-3, 215-pound sophomore
Jerrell Harris was a star recruit last year, considered
to be one of the top five linebacker prospects in the nation,
and he saw a little time in his true freshman season making
three tackles on special teams. While he's built more like a
safety, he's a guided missile of a hitter who made 275 tackles
in his final two years of high school. Now he'll work behind
Reamer on the strongside.
Watch Out For ... Hightower to take another step
forward and become the star to build around for the next few
years. This is still going to be McClain's linebacking corps,
but Hightower has the upside and ability to be considered a
sure-thing next-level prospect after this year.
Strength: Tacklers. This is a good-sized corps
with athleticism and big hitting ability. McClain, Hightower and
Fanney don't miss stops, while Reamer is tough enough to hold
his own against any running game.
Weakness: Pass defense. This group wasn't asked to do
too much against the pass, but that doesn't mean it can't start
to do more. It's the job of the foursome to hold up against the
run and occasionally get into the backfield, but if Hightower
and Reamer can be stronger against the pass, the corps will be
Outlook: There was a big concern here going into
last year with off-the-field issues, suspensions, and
graduations, but it turned out to be great. Now the star
freshmen brought aboard last year appear to be ready to take on
bigger roles, while McClain is a special talent to work around.
This group is deep, big, and extremely talented.
It's asking too much of anyone
to step in and replace the production and the huge plays from
Rashad Johnson at safety. Sophomore Robby Green,
however, has looked good enough to come close. The 6-0,
175-pound former cornerback saw time as a true freshman in
nickel packages and on special teams making six tackles. He's
going to make some mistakes here and there, but he's smart, has
great range, and he should be one of the team's leaders in
Returning at the other safety spot will be
Justin Woodall after making 47 tackles with
four interceptions at strong safety. Great against the run, the
6-2, 220-pound senior is built more like a small linebacker and
has the speed to be all over the field against the pass. While
he's a good enough baseball player to get a look from the New
York Mets, he's a football player who should shine in his senior
year now that he knows what he's doing.
Javier Arenas is a great cornerback, making 63 tackles
with two sacks and an interception, but he's a better return man
who has a future at the next level as both a kick and punt
returner. As a corner, he's a peerless tackler who plays bigger
than his 5-9, 198-pound size with phenomenal quickness. He could
stand to make more big plays against the pass, but he won't get
pushed around by the bigger receivers and he has few problems
staying with the speedy ones. He can be left on an island
without a problem.
Junior Kareem Jackson
is back at the other corner spot with a ton of experience and
the ability to lock down on any
receiver. At 5-11 and 192 pounds he has decent size to go along
with good speed. An excellent tackler, he made 44 stops last
year and was second on the team with ten broken up passes. While
he's not an all-star and he's not going to get the publicity of
Arenas, he's a sound defender who won't get tested all that
Projected Top Reserves:
It's not a stretch to call Dre
Kirkpatrick the team's best defensive back before he
sets foot on the field. The superstar recruit is 6-3,
185-pounds, and isn't afraid to provide a big pop on his
tackles. He's also fast ... next-level, combine-star fast. While
he has the size to play either safety spot, he's most likely
going to start out in nickel and dime packages before moving to
Sophomore Mark Barron will be in
the hunt to take over Rashad Johnson's vacated safety spot, but
he'll more likely end up working behind Woodall. A good special
teamer, Barron got a little time in the secondary finishing with
18 tackles on the year. At 6-2 and 215 pounds he has good size
and the potential to grow into an all-star over the next few
Senior Marquis Johnson was
terrific on pure passing downs stepping in as a fifth defensive
back finishing with 49 tackles with two interceptions and five
broken up passes. He'll be the team's third corner in the
rotation working behind Jackson, but he'll be on the field
enough to come up with another productive season. He has bulked
up to get to 5-11 and 192 pounds but hasn't lost any quickness.
Former running back Ali Sharrief will be in
the safety rotation after combing up with good year making 31
tackles with five broken up passes. The 5-9, 205-pound senior is
able to get into the backfield and shines in dime packages where
he can use his speed and range in the open. He's one of the
team's fastest players.
Watch Out For ... Kirkpatrick. While he's making
sure he's ready to go in the classroom with some offseason work,
he should be ready to go on the field this fall. He's going to
be fantastic from the start and the coaching staff will use him
in a variety of ways if he doesn't take over a starting corner
Strength: Experience and options. Johnson might
be gone, but the Tide is loaded with veterans and enough good
reserves to form a good rotation. Finding the right combination
of players shouldn't be a problem for nickel and dime packages.
Weakness: Teams that can throw the ball. This has been
the issues for the last few years. The numbers look great, but
it's not like the SEC West was the Big 12 South when it came to
pitching it around. Matthew Stafford and Georgia threw well in
the second half comeback mode on the secondary, while Brian
Johnson and Utah picked the Tide secondary clean. The DBs had
the Florida receivers covered, but Tim Tebow made plays. This is
a good secondary, but it could be exposed from time to time.
Outlook: For the second year in a row, the numbers
will be better than the secondary. Kirkpatrick is a phenomenal
talent, but he's a true freshman. Overall, though, this is a
slightly-better-than-serviceable collection of defensive backs
that will miss Johnson's big play ability. However, if
Kirkpatrick is the real deal from day one, and if Green is as
good as he was this offseason, the secondary will have some
great building blocks to work around for the next few years.
Senior Leigh Tiffin followed up
a nice sophomore season by hitting 20-of-29 field goals including two of
his three attempts from beyond 50 yards. He has missed a few too many
makeable kicks over the last two years, and was inconsistent from beyond
40 yards, but he's good enough to be used on any attempt 55 yards and
The punting game was more than fine with senior P.J.
Fitzgerald improving after struggling two years ago. After
averaging 38.2 yards per kick in 2007, he averaged 41.1 yards per try
putting 15 inside the 20 and forcing 16 fair catches. He's not an elite
kicker, but he's good enough to not be a concern.
Javier Arenas is one of the nation's elite all-around kick
returners. He averaged an impressive 15.9 yards per try on punt returns,
with three touchdowns, and averaged 22.9 yards per kickoff return.
Everyone will do whatever possible to stay away from him.
Watch Out For ... Arenas to have a hard time
getting his hands on the ball for punt returns. SEC coaches aren't dumb.
They'll take their hits by punting out of bounds more often than not
rather than give Arenas many chances to get his hands on the ball as a
Strength: Arenas. He's a weapon who can score
whenever he has the ball. If nothing else, he'll help the field position
battle in a big way.
Weakness: Kickoff returns. Arenas is fantastic, but he
was bottled up, for the most part, last year averaging "only" 22.9 yards
per try. No one else stepped up when he didn't get the ball as Bama
averaged 19.6 yards per return.
Outlook: The special teams are solid with all the
key parts coming back. The kickers need to be more consistent, but
they're good and they're experienced, while Arenas is going to be