The search continues at Alabama for not only the starters in the secondary, but the seven or eight guys who will play specialty roles back there when the Crimson Tide go to their nickel and dime packages this season.
“The way we play in the secondary, we have a role players,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Somebody’s the ‘star.’ Somebody’s the ‘money.’ Guys move around and play multiple positions, so you can play situational defense.”
Needless to say, the Crimson Tide are still identifying those roles, particularly in light of last Saturday’s scrimmage when quarterbacks Greg McElroy and A.J. McCarron combined to throw eight touchdown passes.
Saban wasn’t pleased with much of anything on defense, but part of the problem was that Alabama was banged up in its secondary. Cornerbacks DeQuan Menzie (hamstring) and DeMarcus Milliner (ankle) and safety Robert Lester (concussion) all left the scrimmage with injuries. Menzie and Lester were back at practice Monday morning, but Milliner was wearing a black non-contact jersey.
Milliner and Menzie had been working as the third and fourth cornerbacks behind Dre Kirkpatrick and B.J. Scott, while Lester was pushing for a starting spot at safety. Somebody else to watch at safety is sophomore walk-on Will Lowery.
Also, freshman Corey Grant was working with the cornerbacks Monday in practice after opening camp with the running backs.
The way the Crimson Tide like to play on defense, there’s no such thing as too many defensive backs.
Seven times a year ago, they opened the game in either their nickel defense (five defensive backs) or dime defense (six defensive backs). Against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game, they opened with six defensive backs, and junior safety Mark Barron is the only one of those still around and eligible to play this season. Robby Green is still on the team, but won’t be able to play this season because of an NCAA suspension.