Alabama spring wrap-up

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

McElroy moves in: John Parker Wilson went from shaky to solid as Alabama's quarterback last season, and the Crimson Tide won 12 games. Greg McElroy gets his chance to show what he can do after establishing himself as the starter this spring thanks to a combination of smarts, steady play and knowing exactly what Nick Saban is looking for from his quarterback.

Defense ready to pounce: The SEC will again be top-heavy with nasty defenses in 2009, and Alabama's defense has a chance to be even better than it was a year ago. Replacing safety Rashad Johnson won't be easy, but several of the younger players demonstrated this spring that they're ready to move up the depth chart.

Green for Johnson: Speaking of Johnson, one of the most pleasant surprises this spring for the Crimson Tide was the play of Robby Green at safety. He played on special teams last season as a true freshman, but stepped right in with the poise and confidence of a starter this spring at Johnson's old safety spot.

Fall questions

Finding the right combo: The Crimson Tide leaned on their offensive line as much as any team in the league last season. But gone are the centerpieces of that line. Junior college newcomer James Carpenter made a strong bid to be the left tackle this spring, and senior Mike Johnson will be a rock no matter where he lines up. But there's still going to be some more mixing and matching by offensive line coach Joe Pendry in the fall.

Julio and who else? Few receivers in the country strike the kind of fear into opposing defensive coordinators' hearts the way Julio Jones does when he's one-on-one with a cornerback. But the Crimson Tide need Marquis Maze, Mike McCoy, Earl Alexander or somebody else to come through next fall to keep defenses from loading up on Jones' side.

Staying hungry: Saban likes to use athletes such as Tiger Woods and LeBron James as examples any time he talks about the pursuit of excellence. Those guys are obviously self-driven and not consumed with what everybody else around them is doing. Alabama tasted success last season and flirted with a title. Does this club have what it takes to make that next step in 2009?