Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Alabama Analysis: Secondary of primary concern

The keys for the 2013 edition of the Alabama secondary will be a combination of chemistry, identity, and “lockdown” ability at the corners. Much like the Crimson Tide offensive line, the ‘Bama secondary will have to gel as a unit to be successful.

Replacing the likes of Robert Lester and Dee Milliner is certainly no easy task, and many “national observers” are anxious to see how this unit performs, especially on the edges.

Prominent players

CB - Deion Belue
CB - John Fulton
CB - Geno Smith (Will miss first game due to suspension)
S - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
S - Nick Perry
S - Vinnie Sunseri

Emerging talent

*CB - Anthony Averett
*CB - Jonathan Cook
*CB - Eddie Jackson
CB - Cyrus Jones (WR in 2012)
*CB - Maurice Smith
CB - Bradley Sylve
CB - Jabriel Washington
S - Landon Collins
*S - Jai Miller (Walk-on – Spent a decade playing pro baseball – College education funded by MLB)
S - Jarrick Williams

*True Freshman
In regards to the aforementioned corner spot, returning starter Deion Belue, and 2012 reserve John Fulton, will be charged with the responsibility of sealing the outside edges in Alabama’s base 3-4 defense. Considered one of the biggest “team weaknesses” by many pundits, expect both corners to be exploited at various times, if not often, during the season. Picking on the “weaker links,” especially in the passing game, is one factor that keeps a quarterback drooling.

Belue and Fulton will need to be fast and physical. To say the duo will enter the season with “something to prove” is quite the understatement.

When it comes to reserves at cornerback, expect Geno Smith, barring prolonged/additional disciplinary issues, to play a pivotal role in the secondary when Alabama moves to the nickel package. Smith will likely fill the “star” role in the “three corner” defensive set.

Bradley Sylve, converted wide receiver Cyrus Jones, and true freshman Maurice Smith will likely see respectable action at the cornerback spot as well. Per various eyewitness reports, and per Nick Saban himself, Smith has been one of the most “talked about” players in respect to overall performance during the month of August.

While the eyes of the nation, mostly pundits, will reside with the corners, the Alabama safeties are built to last. The undisputed “main attractions” of the secondary are found at the safety position. Couple the range and speed of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, with the hard hitting style of Vinnie Sunseri, and the Crimson Tide have two of the best things going since peanut butter and jelly.
While not meant to serve as a “masking agent” by any stretch, the talent at safety will serve as an “ointment” for the corners until they can prove their merit to opposing quarterbacks.

When it comes to reserves at the safety position, Nick Perry not only has game experience, but experience under pressure. Expect Perry, Landon Collins and Jarrick Williams to see the field quite often at safety, but also at the “money” position when 'Bama goes to the dime defense.

From top-to-bottom, the Crimson Tide secondary will be solid, but as mentioned ad nauseam, the real areas of concern are the corners. Dee Milliner was the textbook definition of a "lockdown corner," as was Dre Kirkpatrick prior to Milliner. Rest assured the opposition(s) will test the edges until the Tide “cover men” prove they can make plays on a consistent basis.

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