1. Spring practice starts today (Friday) and there will be a number of position battles on both sides of the ball. Which one are you paying the most attention to?
Don't know if this counts as a "position" per se, but I'll be interested to see who takes over the "quarterback of the defense" role for 2010. In 2007 and 2008, Rashad Johnson had this role — it required him to a) get the call from the sidelines; b) communicate the call to 10 different people; c) position Dont'a HIghtower (this was just in '08) with his hands; d) run back to his own position and line up. And he had to do all that before the snap.
So I was concerned that we might not have anyone capable of doing all those things in '09. Stupid me: I forgot about Rolando McClain. Which worked out pretty well for us.
Now we don't have either of those guys. I'll be interested to see who steps into that role.
2. There have already been a couple of position change rumors (Kendall Kelly to safety, Michael Bowman to TE) and, knowing Saban's penchant for playing mad scientist with the roster during the early part of spring camp, there are likely going to be a few more over the next few weeks. Who do you think would be a candidate for a position change, why, and where are they moving?
Again, this doesn't qualify as a "position change," but ... I want to see if Saban & Jim McElwain will spend the offseason coming up with more creative ways to use Julio Jones. In '09, Julio spent most of the season battling nagging injuries and constant attention from opposing defenses. It was frustrating at times, though Julio showed up when it mattered most.
(Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Anyway, I'd like to see if we've spent any time in the lab this offseason coming up with some creative ways to use Julio, a phenom who scares everybody else to death when he touches the ball. Video-game players everywhere are intrigued to know what's going to happen.
3. Each year someone has a come from nowhere breakout performance in the spring, a la Robby Green's surprise nabbing of the FS spot last spring. Who is poised to be a breakout star this year?
Let's say the tight end position. For two reasons: as we covered last week, the passing game should make a leap with a senior quarterback & more experienced receivers. And furthermore, as my dad is fond of saying, "The tight end is always open." So assuming we have some soft hands at that spot, expect some passes to float that way.
(Aside: for whatever reason, the term "balls" has become much more prevalent in the football lexicon. Julio Jones caught 7 "balls" last week. Greg McElroy throws a good "ball." The defense jumped all over the quarterback's "balls." I find it disturbing, frankly.)
4. There was a lot of blue chip talent riding the pine last season. Which heralded recruit that has yet to see any meaningful playing time is, in your opinion, both poised to show their stuff and the one you are most excited about finally seeing on the field?
Trent Richardson saw plenty of "meaningful" playing time in '09, but one wonders (again) what kind of jump he can make with a year in an NCAA training program (and a year of mentally absorbing the collegiate atmosphere). You see what happened to Mark Ingram in his second year.
And this underscores another problem we have going forward: who gets the majority of the carries, the Heisman Trophy winner or the sophomore phenom who might actually be more talented? Do Saban & McElwain spend the offseason figuring out ways to get them both on the field (a la Al Borges in 2004)? I'm not sure if the status quo can still apply in 2010.
5. If Mark Ingram and Godzilla fought, who would win?
Godzilla goes off as a 3-1 favorite, but Ingram's faster and harder to grasp. So we'll go with Ingram in the 13th round.