The Alabama Crimson Tide will soon enter the 2012 season without seven starters from their defense that helped them win last season's BCS National Championship.
Dont'a Hightower, DeQuan Menzie, Mark Barron, Josh Chapman, Dre Kirkpatrick, Jerrell Harris and Courtney Upshaw will need to be replaced. While losses like these would leave many programs in shambles, head coach Nick Saban has his pantry well stocked with fresh talent—and experienced talent at that.
Yes, there will be new names and faces. But for most 'Bama fans, the newest version of the Alabama defense is not that new at all. While they may not yet be household names, Alabama's defense is much more experienced and game-tested than most people realize.
Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart have not become widely recognized as being among the best in their field by being unprepared. The 2011 Crimson Tide defense was arguably the best in the country. It was also one of the deepest.