July 10, 2008

Who might surprise on defense?

BamaOnLine.com's two-part series on possible veteran surprises for the 2008 season ends with the defense.

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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 80);">Junior CB Chris Rogers

Why it will happen: The departure of Lionel Mitchell moves Rogers up the ladder one rung, and he was already working consistently with the second team during the spring. His position move from safety to corner, where he can put his safety-like size to use in press coverage, suits him.

Why it might not happen: In nickel situations, Rogers could be the odd man out if Marquis Johnson is inserted as the fifth defensive back as expected. In other words, Rogers may have to beat out one more player in front of him, not to mention hold off those behind him, in order to see significant action. That won't be easy for a career reserve.
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 80);">Junior CB Javier Arenas

Why it will happen: Arenas wasted little time asserting himself as a starting corner in spring drills, and gives Alabama great quickness if not much size. He picked up some valuable experience last season in nickel situations and will probably get tested often with Freshman All-SEC standout Kareem Jackson on the other side.

Why it might not happen: Opposing offenses may look to match-up taller receivers on Arenas in an effort to take advantage of his 5-foot-8 frame. If Arenas struggles with that challenge, he could find himself back in the nickelback role.
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 80);">Junior DE Brandon Deaderick

Why it will happen: Deaderick showed flashes of potential last year in starting over the second half of the season. He has the size and speed to either bull rush or pressure the edge. Deaderick has an opportunity to anchor UA's pass rush this season, and if it doesn't happen, there may be no anchor at all.
Why it might not happen: In eight starts last season, Deaderick got pressure on the quarterback consistently, but with just two sacks, he didn't close the deal often enough. Can he begin translating pressure into playmaking more effectively? This is the area where his play will stand out most - for better or worse.
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 80);">Junior LB Cory Reamer

Why it will happen: Between his offseason size gains and his ability to play in coverage, Reamer won't be passed on the depth chart as easily as some think. He's practiced at two linebacker positions and said in the spring that he is mentally comfortable with both. As depth-challenged as UA is at linebacker, that versatility will help keep Reamer on the field.

Why it might not happen: The likelihood is that Reamer will work at the weakside spot, where he must be strong at the point of attack against the power running games UA will face. That's the area where Reamer, according to Saban in the spring, needs improvement. If opposing teams can run the ball at Reamer, he could slip into more of a situational role on obvious passing downs.
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 80);">Junior S Justin Woodall

Why it will happen: Having changed his mind about playing baseball for UA in the spring, Woodall may have sold out what was left of a promising pitching career to be the best defensive back he can be. That denotes a serious commitment to go along with great size and plenty of promise. A starting job is Woodall's for the taking.

Why it might not happen: His decision to pass on baseball paid off with wire-to-wire status as a first-team safety in spring drills, but that's not the payoff anyone - Woodall, his coaches or UA fans - is looking for. He remains inexperienced at a position where inexperience can be exploited in touchdowns and big chunks of yardage. He will probably also have one of the elite athletes in UA's 2008 signing class - Mark Barron - pushing him.

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(178, 34, 34);">style="font-weight: bold;">Defense: Five veterans who may surprise











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