Published August 12, 2012 - 3:30pm
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LSU and Alabama are picked to finish one-two in the SEC West in 2012 and boasted the two top defenses in the SEC and in the country last year. But growing attrition is a concern for both defenses in the secondary entering 2012.
Now, the strongest defensive backs group in the West belongs to one of Mississippi State or Auburn, as both return three starters or more with much experience and ability, along with depth.
The one similarity between Bama and LSU is interesting though, as the most experienced player returning for both teams is the safety.
Robert Lester is the lone returner for the Bama secondary. Not only is there only one returning starter, but cornerback Travell Dixon, who would have played significant minutes for the Tide, has now left Alabama citing ‘personal reasons’. He probably would have lost the starting job to fellow JUCO transfer Deion Belue, but Dixon would have gotten his chance to play meaningful snaps this year. And it’s not out of the question that he could have worked his way into the starting lineup. In addition, reserve safety Jarrick Williams is out for the season with a torn ACL.
So, while corners Dee Milliner and Deion Belue and safety Robert Lester and one of Vinnie Sunseri or HaHa Clinton-Dix will be a strong foursome in the secondary, there the Tide still has depth concerns combined with little experience. They can’t afford to lose another player to injury or some other type of attrition.
Do they have enough talent to fill the needs? Absolutely. The first team can compete with anyone in the country. But losing Dixon and Williams does bring some concerns for the Tide.
Eric Reid is now the lone returner for the LSU Tigers in the secondary, and he’ll likely be an All-American this year. But with the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu, which we’ll all likely miss on Saturdays, the Tigers have three big holes to fill. Coming off an off-season of trying to get corner Tharold Simon up to speed to replace Morris Claiborne, Jalen Collins and Jalen Mills are currently battling to replace the Honey Badger’s position, too.
Reid will lead this group at safety, with Craig Loston starting at strong safety and Tharold Simon at one corner.
LSU always has talented players and has recruited very well, and I’m sure Collins or Mills can get the job done. The biggest difference-maker for the Tigers is the defensive line. They have the ability to make any corner from good to great. We’ll certainly find out this season.
LSU now has to replace two linebackers and three defensive backs on the back end of the defense, not to mention their punt retuner. That’s tough for anyone, including a talent-rich roster like LSU.