Should Alabama's Defense Really Be a Big Concern in 2010?

Steve ButlerCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2010

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 27:  Mark Barron #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 27, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

At the end of the 2008 season, Alabama couldn't be as good as they were in 2009. They lost Rashaad Johnson, the team captain and starting safety whose effort propelled the team over the top against LSU.

They lost starting quaterback John Parker Wilson, who was the only quarterback on the team with significant playing experience. We were doomed.

Remember those articles? I sure do. They were justified...then.

Alabama lost key contributors on both sides of the ball and with Nick Saban going 7-6 the previous year people had fair reasons to have doubts.

Fast forward to the Championship win, and realizing that we had the best game manager under center in college football, and the best safety in the SEC. The doubters were not only proven wrong, they are embarrassed.

At this point, you think people would at least examine the details of who is on the roster when evaluating losses. Yes we lost some great players.

We lost an inside linebacker who was a better college football player than former SEC linebacker and current premier NFL inside linebacker Patrick Willis. We lost a premier nose tackle, and two elite defensive backs, all of whom were good enough to go in the first two rounds of the draft.

Do these critics think these losses came as a surprise to Nick Saban? Dare I say: "NO!" Needless to say, he probably has players on the team who he feels can be brought up to fill the roles.

The two losses that did and may come at somewhat of a surprise are the loss of eligibility for Safety Robby Green, and the pending potential loss of eligibility for standout DE Marcel Dareus.

I agree there is a potential that the defense will slip down in the rankings from last years wrecking crew, however, I also think they will have to do less for the team to win. This is the best overall offense I have ever seen Alabama have.

As far as Terrence Cody is concerned, Josh Chapman has stood in for him admirably in the past. Chapman, who at 6'1" and weighing in at a hefty 299 has beefed up 10 more pounds.

At 299, Chapman was the strongest player on the team even when Andre Smith and Terrence Cody were there. Kerry Murphy also can't be counted out.

As for Cornerbacks, Dre Kirkpatrick, John Fulton, and Demarcus Milliner have us covered. All three of these guys are top two cornerbacks of their respective recruiting classes. Kirkpatrick and Milliner were quick commits because they knew of the golden opportunity waiting for them to crack the starting lineup and be coached by one of the best defensive back coaches in the land.

Fulton tested the water a bit, but I think his mind was made up for him when 5-star recruit Keenan Allen jumped ship from Alabama and opted to play for the California Golden Bears.

Don't let the critics fool you, these guys are the real deal. Javier Arenas was a walk on, and I'm not sure where Mark Barron came from, but look what Saban did with these guys. I don't know about you but I'm not worried about his ability to make all three of these players into elite cornerbacks.

We will miss Javier Arenas as a punt returner, but the reality is that there is no point on the field where I'm worried about this offense getting the ball effecting their ability to produce points.

Not to mention, the talk of Trent Richardson returning kicks is downright scary! Julio Jones is no slouch at returning punts, either.

At linebacker, I don't think a lot of people realize how good Donte Hightower really is. Eryk Anders and Corey Reamer, while good players and solid contributors, are really not that hard to replace, and there are plenty of guys on the team who took snaps on defense last year capable of filling in at their level of play.

We still possibly have a recruit named Trey DePriest on the horizon as well who could fill McClain's old spot.

Do the doubters really have a leg to stand on? I'd say yes, but Nick Saban amputated that leg last year with lesser talents filling the holes than he has this year.


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