Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kick and Cover: Alabama Unsolved Mysteries

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 17: Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches during the Alabama spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)
While fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide are scratching the “football itch,” Nick Saban is scratching his head.

Alabama will certainly have one of the most prolific offensive attacks in college football, but the Crimson Tide secondary and special teams remain a mystery.

The defending national champs will have to depend on a freshman punter (Jay Williams) and freshman placekicker (Cade Foster) to handle the kicking duties this season.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Is that a mystery waiting to be solved? Absolutely!

We all know how a critical punt or even more so…a field goal, can decide a close game. In many cases a decisive field goal can not only win the game, but put a close game out of reach for the opposition.

Cade Foster and Jay Williams will certainly be under the microscope during the 2010 campaign. The contest with San Jose State (season opener) should provide both players an opportunity to work under less anxiety, while giving them a taste of major college football.

In respect to who will replace Javier Arenas in the return game, look for Julio Jones, Marquis Maze and Trent Richardson to see time at the kick and punt return positions.

Nick Saban seems to like Jones at the punt return spot, simply because he has sure hands and can field the football.

On the defensive side of the ball, Alabama has secondary concerns…of the primary persuasion.

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 27:  Mark Barron #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 27, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Alabama returns strong safety Mark Barron, but must replace Javier Arenas, Kareem Jackson and Justin Woodall.

As fall camp approaches it would appear Dre Kirkpatrick and former Tide wide receiver B.J. Scott will be the corners, while Mark Barron and Robert Lester will lock-down the safety positions.

Look for Rod Woodson, Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry to challenge Lester for the starting safety position during fall camp.

Tide fans can expect highly touted newcomers John Fulton and DeMarcus Milliner to see action in the Tide secondary during nickel situations.

Anticipate LSU transfer Phelon Jones and junior college transfer DeQuan Menzie (if approved to play after Achilles surgery) to also see action in the ‘Bama secondary in 2010.

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