July 17, 2006

Secondary concerns

Over the past two seasons, there where times when the Alabama Crimson Tide's defensive backfield made pass coverage look easy. Given the lofty expectations for a secondary that will feature three new starters this fall, perhaps too easy.

As the 2005 campaign showed, it's a beautiful thing when talent and work ethic meet up with an assistant coach whose abilities bring to mind the man responsible for tutoring some of the very best secondaries in UA football history.

But what happens when a unit loses three players who combined to make 122 career starts?

For Alabama secondary coach Chris Ball, replacing the physical talents of safeties Roman Harper and Charlie Peprah and cornerback Anthony Madison shouldn't be all that difficult. While other areas continue to play catch-up in terms of quality depth, there is an abundance of young "runners and hitters" (yet another Joe Kines-ism) at safety and cornerback for Ball to choose from.

However, replacing the continuity that comes from playing together for the better part of four years won't be easy. And it was that bond, more so than athletic ability, that resulted in the Tide ranking first and fifth nationally in pass defense in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

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