After making it's way around the Bamasphere, the Crimson and White Roundtable returns to Roll Bama Roll. Here's the question we posed to our compatriots:
Coach Saban has stated that he likes to see position battles at every position, and there are several that should be decided over the next few weeks, namely running back, nose tackle, cornerback, and right tackle. Give us your projected starters at those positions, and list any other positions that might be open for competition from the freshmen.
Running Back: It appears to be Terry Grant's to lose. I think they'll be running a lot of the same thing that Saban was known for at LSU: running back by committee. I think Upchurch, Johns, and Coffee will all see a significant amount of playing time, but I think Grant will get the bulk of the carries.
Cornerback: My gut is telling me that Eric Gray is outperforming Lionel Mitchell, otherwise Mitchell would have locked up the job already. We already know Sim's on the other side. I think Gray will start, but Mitchell will get the bulk of the playing time. Remember, Gray's a senior and hasn't been playing, so what did he do differently this time to work his way in? It's all about gameday and how both of them fare on the field. After watching Mitchell last year, I have to believe he'll end up the steady corner.
Right Tackle: Finally, no more Chris Capps. Capps has moved over to Left Tackle, behind Andre Smith. BJ Stabler still has a knee injury, and that basically means that Mike Johnson is the man for the job. He's been outperforming EVERYBODY and has really put everything he's got into that position. I think he's gonna be a stud to watch this year.
Other than that, I don't really know of any position battles that wouldn't be expected. We can look at the defensive line and at linebacker and see that freshmen are needed IMMEDIATELY. Look for McClain to play quite a bit at linebacker, and look for Chapman, McCullough, and Luther Davis to all have significant playing time on the defensive line. If they can mature enough through September, and we can still pull those games out, they'll all be experienced enough to be considered sophomores by the 2nd half of the year.
NT: Brian Motley (and the Crüe)
CB: Fucking A. There are so many DBs on this team, you could probably throw anybody in.
RT: What, we can't clone Andre Smith? WTF? Then what's the damn good of having that science department around, anyway?
I don't know whether position battles are all that great, since I'd rather have an experienced returning starter than two sophs bust ass in training camp. I guess we'll see how it shook out in a couple weeks.
Nose Tackle is critical in Saban's defense in order to stop the run. Redshirt Freshman Brian Motley seems to have a slight edge, with Lorenzo Washington, Josh Chapman, and Alfred McCullough close behind. Motley recorded 11 tackles in one scrimmage. I think Motley will get the nod when it is all said and done.
Cornerback is already set on one side with Simeon Castille. The only question is who will be his partner in crime on the other side. I still think Lionel Mitchell will get the nod over Marquis Johnson and Kareem Jackson. I do think Johnson will get to play some, but I imagine that Mitchell will end up with more playing time than Marquis. Expect to see plenty of Eric Gray too.
Right Tackle is something we've all been concerned about over the last few seasons *cough* Chris Capps *cough*. B.J. Stabler and Mike Johnson have been battling for this position since it is obvious Capps won't be starting anytime soon after his surgery. There are some that feel as if Johnson could get the nod over Stabler. I happen to think that Johnson and Stabler will share more than most of us think. But, I guess I should go with Johnson in order to actually give you an answer.
I'm looking forward to seeing how our Linebackers turn out. Other than Prince Hall, we have a few question marks in that area. Rolando McClain has been impressive from what I've gathered, so I expect him to see plenty of action. I'm also wondering who will be the WR that steps up when we need it the most. D.J. Hall and Keith Brown will see plenty of playing time for sure, but I'm also interested in Nikita Stover and Mike McCoy.
|Roll Crimson Tide|
FB 10 Jimmy Johns , 34 Jeramie Griffin
RT 78 Mike Johnson 6-6 303 Soph., 72 Chris Capps 6-6 298 Sr.
NT 66 Brian Motley 6-1 284 RFr., 52 Alfred McCullough 6-2 315
LCB 2 Simeon Castille 6-1 189 Sr. , 3 Kareem Jackson 5-11 185 Fr.
RCB 16 Lionel Mitchell 6-2 184 Jr., 24 Marquis Johnson 5-11 178 Soph.
At the nose tackle position I have absolutely no clue. So I went to the BOL website and I see that freshman Brian Motley is listed as our starting nose tackle, so I'm good with that speculation.
I think that at right tackle Mike Johnson is the man to beat. Johnson is a sophomore, standing 6-6 and weighting 303 pounds - needless to say, he's a big fella. I believe that our staff has picked the best player for this position.
As far as freshmen competing for positions, I honestly believe that any freshmen who shows up, works hard, and outperforms a higher classman can take their position easily. Saban has stated several times that the best player will play. I think we'll see Rolando McClain battling for an inside linebacker spot before the year is over. I also think we'll see true freshman Luther Davis getting some valuable experience at the defensive end position.
|Todd - Roll Bama Roll|
It looks like the starting RB spot is Terry Grant's to lose but, again, there's going to be competition and Saban likes a two back system as it is. With Johns moving to FB, I look to see at least four different backs getting significant playing time in the backfield this year.
Mike Johnson appears to have stepped into the starting role at RT, while Capps is floating back and forth between RT and LT on the second team. I hate it for the kid, his coaches last season didn't do him a great service by keeping him in the game, but we'll be much better off if he stays in reserve.
I'm a little worried about the CB spot. Mitchell should have had this thing locked down, but Gray and Johnson are still fighting for the start. One of them should have emerged by now, so that doesn't give me a lot of comfort.
Also, McClain is going to get a start before the season is over at MLB. I'm fairly sure Prince Hall worked with the freshmen the first day of fall camp to get him up to speed, not as a disciplinary measure like some media reports assumed, and the kid is just too good not to put on the field.