Defense shouldn't miss a beat

<i>Bama Magazine</i> writers are in the process of conducting interviews with all the Tide assistant coaches as research for this summer's <i>‘BAMA Football Yearbook</i>. <br><br>Yesterday was Joe Kines' turn.

Given his past history of working with Mike Shula as both coach and colleague, Joe Kines is probably as valuable as any staff member in the SEC. Kines was on the Alabama staff when Shula was a player. Plus, Kines then moved to Tampa Bay with Ray Perkins where he ended up working with Shula on the Buccaneer staff.

Kines was defensive coordinator at Alabama when Mike Shula (right) played quarterback. (Barry Fikes photo)

When Shula took over as head coach of the Crimson Tide, he quickly decided to keep Kines on as Defensive Coordinator, relying on his advice in keeping the other defensive coaches as well.

"There's no question there is a comfort level of working with Coach Shula," Kines said yesterday. "His background in the NFL has prepared him well for this job."

Highlights from the Kines interview

(NOTE: the 2003 edition of the ‘BAMA Football Yearbook, due out in July, will go into much greater detail.)

Kines pointed to continuity on the defensive staff as being key. "We expect to pick up where we left off in the spring," he said. "That will be especially important for the players.

"They've gone through a great deal the past several months."

Brooks Daniels leads a deep and talented linebacking corps.

Kines re-stated his intention to build the Tide defense into an aggressive, attacking squad, capable of dictating game tempo. "We've got the talent," he said. "We'll get up the field and force the action."

Asked to identify defensive strengths, Kines pointed to a deep and talented linebacker corps first. "They can be as good as any group out there."

Kines then talked about the Tide's defensive line. Starting defensive ends Nautyn McKay-Loescher and Antwan Odom could both be special. Starting tackles Anthony Bryant and Ahmad Childress have the potential to be very good, but both must adjust to the starting role.

Perhaps surprising to some fans, Kines then identified the Tide safeties as a team strength, noting that both Charles Jones and Roman Harper had the speed, intelligence and athleticism to be very good.

Free safety Charles Jones

Areas of concern start with depth on the defensive line. The backup players have talent, but it's mostly unproven. Kines noted that both Bryant and Childress were making progress on their off-season goal to lose weight and get into better condition. But both have something to prove in that regard.

As a unit, Kines expects good things from his defense. "We're not really rebuilding, because last year's defense was very good," he said. "But we expect to continue the tradition of Alabama defense."

Personnel notes

  • Strongside linebacker Juke King's rehab is progressing. Coaches hope to get him back by next season.
  • Even without Juke King, Alabama is a solid two-deep at every linebacker position.
  • P.J. Fletcher (6-2, 231, Jr), regarded as one of the top walk-on athletes on the squad, will move from outside linebacker to defensive end this fall. Given Bama's depth at linebacker, the move represents Fletcher's best chance for playing time.
  • Former linebacker Will Hardy (6-3, 224, So) and former tight end Kyle Dyer (6-3, 205, So) were also moved to the defensive line at the end of spring drills.

COACHING STAFF NOTE: With the arrival of Charley Harbison earlier this week and Dave Ungerer yesterday, the Tide staff is now complete and in place.

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