Butch Dill/Associated Press
Until Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight scorched the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama seemed to have turned a corner in the secondary.
The unit made tremendous strides since earlier in the season when Texas A&M posted huge passing numbers.
Alabama’s cornerbacks were young—and getting younger this year—but also have a great deal of talent.
Cornerback Eddie Jackson, who won a starting job midway through his freshman season, needs to be a stabilizing presence at the position.
Deion Belue is gone, meaning Alabama must quickly find solutions at corner.
John Fulton started last season, but struggled—specifically against Texas A&M.
Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve offer intriguing options as well.
Incoming freshmen Tony Brown (enrolled) and Marlon Humphrey (not enrolled) have chances to earn immediate playing time.
The safety position is a bit more settled, despite losing both Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri to the NFL.
Landon Collins is the next huge thing to come out of the Alabama secondary.
Nick Perry, Jarrick Williams and Geno Smith—all of whom have experience—seem likely to battle for the other position.
Whichever of Perry or Smith who doesn’t win the starting nod could factor in as a nickelback.
For Auburn to weather the storms coming as part of its 2014 schedule, it must find answers in the secondary.
Chris Davis, the team’s top corner, is gone. So are secondary contributors Ryan White and Ryan Smith.
Now the Tigers must reload on the fly.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has the benefit of being able to call on safety Derrick Moncrief, rated by 247Sports as one of the nation’s top junior-college transfers.
Moncrief will team with Jermaine Whitehead as Auburn’s traditional safeties while Robenson Therezie should return as a starter at the “Star” position.
At some point, it seems likely the coaches will finally find a spot for Justin Garrett, who has drawn rave reviews from his practice performances in the past.
Cornerback isn’t as clear-cut.
Jonathon Mincy and Joshua Holsey seem to have the inside tracks to starting positions.
Depth beyond those two must surface, which is why the Tigers signed junior-college transfer Joseph Turner after national signing day.
Jonathan Jones saw some playing time last year but didn’t do anything to make a name for himself.
Incoming freshmen Nick Ruffin, Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts should all have chances to see the field this year.
None of the three will go through spring practice, which could create a tense August camp.