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SEC 2009 // How About That Defense? We Also Have to Play Offense?

Here, for your perusal, is a list of the returning offensive starters for Alabama this year:

  • WR Julio Jones
  • WR Mike McCoy
  • LG Mike Johnson
  • RT Drew Davis

How is Nick Saban still having trouble getting under 85 scholarships?

Or you could go with the more serious question: How is Alabama still favored by some, including your humble correspondent, to win the SEC West? Because of the eight returning starters on defense.

Any talk about Alabama's depth chart in 2009 has to begin with Alabama's defense in 2009 -- in part because any dicussion of the Tide this year starts on that side of the ball. As the formerly skeptical Dr. Saturday says:

Utah took a big bite out of that aura in the site of the '92 team's greatest triumph, but on paper, at least, you can't draw up a better blueprint for an overwhelming, championship defense than what 'Bama welcomes back this fall: There are no less than 10 regulars back, including likely All-Americans Terrence Cody and Rolando McClain in the middle, and the top-ranked incoming class includes five-star/instant impact types in linebacker Nico Johnson and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. [UPDATE: Blockquote repaired, 08.06.09]

There have been some departures in recent weeks -- as there will be with any football team, and especially any Alabama football team. Brandon Fanney, he of the 66 tackles including nine for loss, is perhaps the most high-profile defection.

But the defense still includes massive nose guard Mt. Cody (whose real first name, in the quite likely event that you've forgotten, is Terrence), LB Rolando McClain and CB Javier Arenas.

Not that there's no one to replace. FS Rashad Johnson is gone, as is DE Bobby Greenwood, in addition to aforementioned Fanney. But when you have that little repair work to do on a team that allowed just 263.5 ypg the year before, you're not too worried about the defensive side of the depth chart.

The offensive side -- well, that's another matter, isn't it?

The lack of returning starters on that side of the ball doesn't mean that Bama's going to be sending seven true freshmen out there on every possession. RB Mark Ingram wasn't a "starter" in 2008, but he carried the ball 143 times for 728 yards and 12 TDs -- better than a good number of starters in college football.

The offensive line will at times be a shuffle, though you can probably count on William Vlachos as the starting center. The preceeding link highlights David Ross; James Carpenter quickly scaled the depth chart to become almost invaluable to the Tide; and D.J. Fluker is at least one fan's favorite to join the fray. (Tyler Love could also be in the mix somewhere.) None of these guys are Antoine Caldwell and Andre Smith, but together they might be able to fill the gap considerably.

With Jones (58 receptions, 924 yards, 4 TDs) back for his sophomore year, the main question for the receiving corps is whether McCoy (16 receptions, 191 yards, 1 TD) and Marquis Maze (11 receptions, 137 yards, 2 TDs) can back him up. Your humble correspondent might have been taking things a bit far to compare Maze to Percy Harvin after the spring game earlier this year, but I will stand behind the basic premise: If Greg McElroy works out, you will know Maze's name.

Ah, yes. McElroy.

Greg McElroy, 2007-08








2007 (2 games)








2008 (6 games)








Total (8 games)








All that this tells us is that McElroy is very good in limited action. It gives reasons for Tide fans to be hopeful that McElroy can do what he's asked to do -- not bloody much -- and let the defense take on the responsibility of winning the game.

And there's really nothing wrong with that.


MONDAY: Alabama Aims for Something Special
TUESDAY: Tuscaloosa Nights (and Days); Nick Saban Runs for Congress
TODAY: The Depth Chart
THURSDAY: Predictions
EARLIER TODAY: Feedback and Conclusions