Keys to the Kingdom: Defense

As you may or may not have read on Friday, I laid out what a list of what I thought to be keys for offensive success. Today, it is the Defense’s turn. Hang on to your mouse pads, cause here we go…….. oh wait, bring out the monkey!

The defense deserves equal treatment from the Monkey.

Much better. Ok, here are a few important factors I will be paying close attention to this season:

Conditioning- Most people will start off talking about either a specific position or player, and I certainly will move in that direction later in this post. But, I personally feel that even though there are positions with more depth than others, we’re still somewhat thin across the board. If our starters in key areas have little to no endurance, then we could witness a few late game collapses on D.  Even though we’re building depth with our new and future players, we’re not there yet.

If our experienced players are well conditioned, then we should be fine. But if they’re heaving with their hands on their hips, we may have some problems.

Linebackers- This has to be the most obvious position for such a post. With the departure of Jimmy Johns, the lack of depth in the Linebacker position has been a major topic amongst Tide fans. Alabama must replace two starting linebackers in Darren Mustin and Keith Saunders, who gave us a lot in 2007. Add in the health issues of Zeke Knight, and you have yourself a conundrum. So please pray that nothing happens to Rolando McClain and Prince Hall, since they are our only two LBs with starting experience.

So, like many different positions, we will probably have to depend on some Freshmen. So be excited (I guess), because you will be seeing players like Jerrell Harris in the Linebacker position earlier than originally anticipated.

Alfred McCullough- While we still technically don’t know who will step up as a Defensive End to replace Wallace Gilberry, McCullough is someone you should watch this season.

Even though I respect Bobby Greenwood, McCullough appears to be the most talented of the two. The best example of this would be A-day, where  Alfred won the Dwight Stephenson Most Outstanding Lineman award during the post-game awards ceremony. Even though in-house pre-season awards don’t automatically equal success, he appears to be making great strides. It looks like that redshirt will pay off.

Brett Favre- He’s old, but he’s coming out of retirement and…. oh sorry, it’s just that he appears to be bleeding into every other sports topic these days, so it just seemed natural to mention him.

Chemistry- With the leaders of the defense graduating, we really need this group to gel together ASAP. McClain and Johnson will have to step up a lead, replacing the likes of Gilberry and Castille. Can they do it? Sure they can. McClain had to give out orders last year as a Freshman, and Johnson appears to be working hard to be a good example on and off the field. My only concern for Rashad Johnson may be his somewhat more laid-back personality compared to an Antoine Caldwell (an pretty loud dude). Still, I’ve seen plenty of soft spoken people step up and speak loudly when it comes time to lead, so I don’t really think it is an automatic hindrance.

Two Defensive Coordinators- I know, I know…. Kevin Steele is the “Defensive Head Coach”, and Kirby Smart is the “Defensive Coordinator”. This basically means that Steele is the Senior DC, and Smart is the Junior DC, or Coordinator-in-training. Steele will probably handle the overall production, while Smart will be able to work on an individual level much more often. I don’t think the formations will change too much, but we will have to adjust since we don’t have as much experience as we need for such a tough road schedule. Hopefully, two minds will be better than one in this regard, as these two gentlemen with need to “Coach ‘Em Up!” this season.

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