Thursday, March 18, 2010

What to Watch for in Spring Practice: Secondary



Much like the linebackers, the secondary comes into spring practice depleted from last fall’s squad. Mark Barron is the only returning starter at safety, however he did lead the league last year in interceptions with 7. That leaves us to find another safety to replace Justin Woodall and work with Barron, and we must find new cornerbacks to replace Javier Arenas, Kareem Jackson, and Marquis Johnson.

To make things even complicated, the top contender for the starting safety job, Robby Green, was suspended and his eligibility for next season is still unclear. If there is good news in the situation, he will be at practice once it resumes on the 22nd. If Green is not able to go, the job will fall to Sophomore Robert Lester. To complicate things for the two, it will be interesting to see what combinations Saban will use for the nickel and dime packages. During the first spring practice Friday, Barron and Lester did work together in drills.

As for the corners, there is no shortage of athletes on the roster but definitely a lack of game experience and reading coverages at full game speed. With the way Nick Saban uses his corner packages, the secondary will need at least three true starters for the fall season. The top three are Dre Kilpatrick, who has all the makings of a all conference corner, but must make a true commitment to his work. The second cornerback job is a highly contested match between LSU transfer Phelon Jones and B.J. Scott. Both are very physical players, however Jones may have an edge due to the experience gained while starting some games at LSU. No matter who takes the second spot, they both must be ready to play, whether it be as a nickel back or the fifth defensive back in the dime formation.

Let’s not forget the four and five star early enrollees John Fulton and DeMarcus Milliner who are already  in spring practice and running through drills. The question for them will be if their skills on the playing field will make up for their lack of experience.

While there are some large gaps to fill in the secondary this spring, there is no doubt that  that the talent pool is full. It will come down to who can separate themselves from those around them. With Nick Saban coaching the defensive backs, they will have every chance to prove themselves.


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