Filed quickly this week as I flee town, with thanks to Memphis Tider for the questions.
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?
I’m not the X’s and O’s type, or I guess I should day that such analysis is better left to those who have a firmer grasp on the X’s and O’s. But I do believe that other teams shied away from running up the middle with Cody there. Plus, his prowess at attracting double-teams is well documented. That freed the linebackers to make plays. Honestly though, I’m not looking for that big of a loss in the heart of the defense. What Chapman, Murphy and company lack in size in comparison to Cody – mind, they aren’t small men – they make up for in athleticism. The defense is Saban’s and thus won’t change much, if any. Will their level of play be affected? That remains to be seen once the season starts. I do believe that teams will test the middle, early on especially.
2. Although it’s simply a glorified scrimmage, what are you looking for from Saturday’s A-Day game?
As I mentioned last week, I’ve learned the hard way to attempt to gleam too much from Spring Practice and that goes double for A-Day. To be honest, I stopped going the day we had 92,000 there and was turned away at the gate. I’m actually going climbing and camping in North Carolina this weekend before the blazing heat shows up and sets up residence until October. I’ll watch a little of the replay next week and read as much as I can, but I’m not all that excited about this – I attended 12 of the 14 games this year and I’m still somewhat sated in my football appetite. I’ve actually had dreams about Alabama playing Tennessee; Crimson vs. White just doesn’t so it for me personally.
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?
It’s my premise that leadership is an oft forgotten element for success. Johnson was without question a leader which complemented his athleticism as his position to make the line pretty darned good overall. I predicted much greater drop-off last year. I believe he was a huge part of the absence of that. His loss has to be a big factor. However, Alabama is more talented and deeper on the line overall than they have been in several years. Saban understands that games are won up front. Based on the lines at LSU, even after he left, I believe that the team will weather the change alright.
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)?
It’s hard to answer the first part of that question. I believe that Saban is a good enough manager that he would have another top-notch guy to fill that role, but I love Cochran’s enthusiasm. I bet you’d hate his ass at six in the morning, but like anybody that forces you to call upon the best that you possess; you love him at the end of the process.
5.NBA Playoff time — who wins it, who pulls off the biggest upset, and why?
What is this NBA that you speak of? I thought basketball ended when Duke won a couple of weeks ago.