February 16, 2007

Five defensive players to track in the off-season

The presence of a new coaching staff at the University of Alabama can be largely attributed to the Crimson Tide's offensive struggles over the last two seasons. Oddly enough, though, when looking ahead to next season, it's the defensive side of the ball that has Tide fans concerned.

With graduation taking its toll in all three areas of the defense, Alabama returns four starters from a unit that ranked fifth in total defense (297.7 ypg) and seventh in scoring defense (19.2 ppg) among SEC teams.

There are major concerns at defensive tackle, where the Tide must replace its top three players in Jeremy Clark, Dominic Lee and J.P. Adams. Combine those losses with vacancies at both outside linebacker spots and it's clear that revamping the front seven will be a point of emphasis for Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele during spring drills.

In the secondary, the Tide returns Simeon Castille, a consensus first-team all-SEC selection a season ago, but it will need to replace a three-year starter at cornerback in Ramzee Robinson. Of bigger concern are the safety spots -- both of which might feature new starters in 2007.

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