The venerable Memphis Tider, an original contributor to the C&W Roundtable and participant in the hilariously inept "Monsters of Blog" A-Day get together way back when, has returned from hibernation to host this week's roundtable, so away we go:
1. With Cody being gone to the NFL this season, will this change not only the way the Tide plays defense, but the way that opponents attack? Will this play into our favor or no?
That's a pretty good question, really. The fact that players of the size and athleticism of Terrence Cody are so rare but the 3-4 defense still thrives without them I think dispels the myth that you have to have a 370 lb beast in the middle, but damn don't they make life that much easier? I don't necessarily see that it will change the way we play defense; Josh Chapman has been solid at the nose for the past two years in his own right, and don't forget that Kerry Murphy was recruited in the same class as Cody (had to do his time at Hargrave, though) at NT so it's not like the coaches haven't been able to find guys they think are able to handle those duties. And even beyond that, we have so many different situational packages and personnel groupings on defense that we'll likely be seeing some of the ends (especially Dareus) lining up at NT over the course of the year as well. I guess that's my long way of saying that Cody's absence isn't going to change the basic philosophy of our defense or how we run it, it's just not going to be as fun without him. I do agree that it will probably change the way teams attack the defense, though. You just plain didn't run up the middle on us with Cody in there (LSU was best able to in '08, but Cody was still recovering from the knee injury suffered against Ole Miss and they were the best offensive line we faced that year), so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see teams testing whether or not we're still as good against the run without him. That could certainly work in our favor If we really are as stout against the run without him and teams pigheadedly try to test us, but if not...well let's just not talk about that.
2. Although it's simply a glorified scrimmage, what are you looking for from Saturday's A-Day game?
Where DeMarcus Milliner and John Fulton are fitting in. I think its pretty much agreed that we're gonna sink or swim with some combination of B.J. Scott, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Phelon Jones as the top three corners, but Milliner and Fulton had some solid hype surrounding their recruitment and after having gone through spring practice it will be interesting to see how far they've come in the short time they've had in Tuscaloosa. I can't help but think about the fact that Kareem Jackson was starting and was arguably the best corner on the roster in '07 by mid season as a true freshman (and that was without the benefit of also going through spring practice), so hopefully both Milliner and Fulton will live up to their hype and be able to contribute early.
Also, I'm kind of looking forward to watching the running backs. We know about Ingram and Richardson already, but no one has really gotten a good look at what Eddie Lacy can do yet and Demetrius Goode showed a lot of potential in junk time last year. I'd like to see which one of them has the potential to be the new Roy this year.
3. How big is the loss of Mike Johnson on the offensive line? Was he the reason the transition from 2008 to 2009 was so smooth?
I really do think he was a big reason that the offensive line was able to keep up the high level of production from '08 to '09, but while I hate to lose his (and Drew Davis') leadership, with three returning starters at LT, C, and RG and at least one more guy with good experience in the system taking over at LG (be it Boswell or McCullough that finally cements the spot) the transition shouldn't be quite as rough as it was last year.
4. Is there another strength & conditioning coach in the country that is as important to a plan as Coach Cochran? What is it about him that you love so much (because we know that everyone here loves him. haha)?
After the years of second half collapses and seeing players clearly struggling and winded I cannot say enough good things about what Cochran has done since he got here. I stll love the quote from Corey Reamer about him that was put in the fanshots a few weeks back:
"You stay bought into it when you see your opponent sucking air and physically failing and you're still fit and ready and you know you own his ass."
The complete 180 of the strength and conditioning since he arrived is just completely amazing, and I don't know that there could ever be a better match between head and S&C coach than Saban and Cochran. Saban wants every player on the team to be physically dominant through 60 minutes, and Cochran not only knows how to get them there in the weight room, but how to keep the motivated on the sidelines. The guy is just amazing, and besides the evil genius that is Joe Pendry I have to say he's my favorite position coach on staff.
5. NBA Playoff time -- who wins it, who pulls off the biggest upset, and why?
Basketball is just not one of those sports that I can enjoy for its own sake like football, and professional basketball is definitely not something I can deal with. That being said, go Clippers! (They're in the playoffs, right?)