Published August 8, 2012 - 12:05pm
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What’s the Saban Premium you ask? Try losing six or seven starters on defense and see what you’re ranked heading into the next year. Alabama did just that, and they are ranked No. 2 overall in the preseason polls, ahead of several teams that are just as deserving, if not more, and just behind LSU for the top overall spot.
Particularly, the much-discussed Alabama defensive secondary is in the spotlight this preseason. Losing three starters and simply plugging in and reloading with talented players is very tough to do in any conference and at any level in football.
But the Saban Premium will have the secondary in full-go mode come game one.
Senior safety Robert Lester is the only returning starter of this bunch, and we can project Dee Milliner will start at one corner, a position vacated by Dre Kirkpatrick.
But there are still two positions up for grabs, opposite Lester and Milliner.
But the players aren’t worried, because they know the Saban is keeping a watchful eye on his beloved secondary.
Wide receiver Kevin Norwood knows that is Saban’s specialty.
“Coach Saban’s dealing with them,” Norwood said with a smile. “They’re all impressive. It’s coach Saban’s defense. He’s going to get them right.”
Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart is impressed with this group overall thus far, but he knows how little experience they have collectively.
“We have the bodies there, we have the body types we want, we just have to give those guys some experience,” defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. “Thank goodness with the way we practice and this camp we have, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to play some ball and do some things we’ve got to do.”
Ideally, Bama wants JUCO transfer Deion Belue to step up in the other vacant corner position, opposite Milliner. Belue is battling with Travell Dixon – another JUCO transfer – and junior John Fulton. Belue has worked predominantly with the first team defense, and I think he gets the nod opening game. He was the top corner prospect at JUCO last year.
Opposite Lester at safety, two players are leading the way to take Mark Barron’s vacated position. Sophomores Vinnie Sunseri and HaHa Clinton-Dix are in a heated battle. Sunseri, the son of current Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, was labeled “The Executioner” last year as a headhunter on special teams. Clinton-Dix looks like he could be a freak when he gets his feet wet and really understands Saban’s defense. Sunseri probably gets the nod in a standard coverage set for Bama, but Clinton-Dix will play a lot of Nickel when situations permit.
The Saban Premium will have his secondary answering all of these questions week one.