Alabama Spring Practice: Nick Saban Benches Starters, Who Will Lose Their Jobs?

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IIApril 7, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 16:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide yells at the officials after a hit by the Ole Miss Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In a press conference on April 6th, Nick Saban admitted several players that performed poorly in the first scrimmage have been "demoted," though he did not give details on which players specifically. 

Saban has made it clear that a sense of entitlement is not tolerated.  From walk-on Will Lowery to stars like Dont'a Hightower and all the way to a fifth-string running back, Saban has made it known that everyone must work hard. 

Saban runs the Crimson Tide like a fiercely competitive corporation.  You work hard or you go home. 

Trent Richardson was the only player spared, as Saban made it clear Trent was not one of the lackadaisical players.

Of the possible players losing their starting positions, none are more vulnerable than both the offensive and defensive lines. 

Alfred McCullough, a part-time start in 2010, is in the fight of his life to secure a spot as a starting offensive tackle against junior college transfer Aaron Douglas. 

Cyrus Kouandjio and his older brother Arie are bout outstanding offensive linemen in the mix as well, and Saban isn't afraid to throw true and redshirt freshmen (respectively) into the mix.

Chance Warmack is a returning starting offensive guard who looks to be one of the first on the chopping block with the strong competition this year. He did not perform well this year replacing departed All-American NFL draftee Mike Johnson at left guard.

D.J. Fluker isn't a guarantee either, but his chances look good.  The closest there is to a sure] thing on the offensive line are returning starters redshirt junior right guard Barrett Jones and redshirt senior center William Vlachos.  Their jobs seem safe, but are far from guaranteed.

The defensive line is at risk to have a complete makeover.  Australian mountain Jesse Williams is coming out of junior college as the top prospect in the nation along with another less reputable junior college lineman, Quinton Dial.  The defensive line in 2010 did poorly at stopping the run, so the competition here is as stiff as it gets.

Previous starters defensive ends Damion Square and Josh Chapman are at high risk of losing their starting positions, as Jesse Williams can play at either of their positions.

Unrealized star Kerry Murphy, who had high expectations, is likely to be all but dropped from the race for starting positions.

The linebacker squad looks very sound and should not have any big starter changes.  Dont'a Hightower is back and healthier than ever, as is sack machine Courtney Upshaw. Second-year starter and true sophomore C.J. Mosley is coming off an outstanding freshman campaign, which includes two interceptions returned for touchdowns, and looks to be a shoe-in as a starter.

Incoming highly touted linebacker recruits Trey DePriest and Brent Calloway are also in the mix for linebacker time and are sure to make some veterans sweat.

The secondary looks good as well with only a few at-risk players.  Robert Lester should be producing well, as will Mark Barron when he's fully recovered.  Backup walk-on Will Lowery at safety is one of the hardest workers on the team and is unlikely to incur the wrath of Saban, but equally unlikely to win a starting position.

Cornerbacks, however, are a much different story. 

Though Dre Kirkpatrick is likely to retain his position, there is brutal competition between returning starter DeQuan Menzie, DeMarcus Milliner (who started for an injured Menzie multiple times) and LSU transfer Phelon Jones, who made a living last year in dime and nickel packages.

Phelon Jones is probably the player in the secondary who has made the most progress in terms of where he began.  He was talented but raw and neglected by coaches coming out of LSU, but has impressed Saban. 

The biggest question would be the quarterbacks. 

A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims have locked horns in a battle to win the starting quarterback position.  They both know that Saban doesn't give a backup quarterback many snaps.  McCarron rode the bench for two years and Sims for one, so they are both hungry to take the snaps in front of 100,000 fans.


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