Alabama Football Issues Depth Chart

Ooh, ooh, ooh! We finally got it! The depth chart! No one makes more of a big deal than Alabama of claiming to not have a football depth chart through the three weeks of Fall practice, then issuing it the week of the first game. Until there is a depth chart, there are "personnel groupings for organizational purposes only," or something like that.



Alabama's personnel groupings chart probably looks suspiciously like every other team's depth chart, but that's neither here nor there. No one can complain that Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban hasn't proved that he knows what is best when making decisions regarding his football team, and that's the way he has decided to play it.

Most reporters, indeed most Alabama fans, had a pretty good idea who would be listed first at most positions when Bama revealed its depth chart Monday. The Crimson Tide opens the season Saturday hosting San Jose State at 6 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The only television of the game will be on a pay-per-view basis.

The first thing that is revealed in a depth chart is which positions will be included. Alabama operates out of a basic pro-set offense, but it can include all manner of permutations involving number of wide receivers or tight ends or running backs. Saban elected to issue a depth chart based on the way Alabama played most of the time in 2009 and expects to play in 2010. That's with a traditional tight end, an H-back tight end, two wide receivers, a quarterback, tailback, and five interior linemen.

But on defense, Alabama played most of 2009 in either a nickel or dime set, not in the presumed 3-4 defense. (A 3-4 is three defensive linemen, four linebackers, and four defensive backs. Bama more often than not had a nickel back "Star" and/or a dime back "Money," meaning five or six defensive backs with a reduced number of linemen and/or linebackers.) But the defensive depth chart issued Monday was for the 3-4.

It's safe to say there were no surprises on offense. More about that in a moment.

On defense, there were a couple of mild surprises.

Jerrell Harris had begun working at weakside linebacker (an inside position) recently after having spent time at strongside linebacker (an outside position). Harris is listed number one at weakside with Nico Johnson (who stepped in part of last season after Dont'a Hightower was injured) or – repeat OR – freshman C.J. Mosley behind Harris.

Saban has a number of "or" spots on the depth chart, mostly regarding back-up positions.

With Harris at weakside linebacker, Chavis Williams is the number one strongside linebacker. He's backed by Alex Watkins and Jonathan Atchison.

Saban said, "Chavis (Williams) has always been a guy that has high energy, high effort, always has been able to run. He's a little bit of a playmaker and has been on special teams in the past and has had some opportunities to play. He's gotten bigger and stronger. He holds the point better and has a better understanding of the defense, so he makes less mental errors. He has been in the same roll now for several years, which I think, is really helpful with him. We're pleased with the progress that he has made. His progress allowed us to move Jerrell Harris to inside linebacker. That was an area that we weren't comfortable with and Chris Jordan, Nico (Johnson), (C.J.) Mosley have done a good job there and there are a couple of others that could play, but we'll see if that is the best group in this game."

The other mild surprise was that DeQuan Menzie was listed number one at right cornerback, ahead of B.J. Scott. Saban did point out that Menzie would be the Star (position in nickel formation), which leaves open the possibility of Scott, who is listed behind Menzie, being the right corner.

Menzie, a junior college transfer, had an Achilles injury last spring and has made a near-miraculous recovery to be ready to play this season.

Saban said, "He has played in practice well enough that we feel like he can play if he doesn't have any setbacks. Now will he be able to sustain a whole game based on the number of reps in the conditioning that he has gotten to this point? He has been able in the past seven to ten practices to maintain the entire practice in terms of what he does, once he gets going. He did have a hamstring and ankle that were unrelated to his original injury that affected him a little bit. We're just going to try to play it day-to-day and we'll make a game-day decision. He would be a starter for us at right corner, and he would be the star (position in nickel formation) for us if he is able to play. We're going to progress him and prepare as if he can play and then have the people prepared behind him if he can only play for a little while or if he isn't ready to play, go to plan B."

There were no clear number one kickers, except for Cade Foster as kickoff man. Foster and Jeremy Shelley are "either-or" on field goals and extra points and Jay Williams and Cody Mandell both first as punter.

Here is Alabama's depth chart:

Offense

Left Tackle – James Carpenter, Alfred McCullough or Tyler Love

Left Guard – Chance Warmack, John Michael Boswell or Brian Motley

Center – William Vlachos, David Ross or Brian Motley

Right Guard – Barrett Jones, Anthony Steen

Right Tackle – D.J. Flukcer, Arie Kouandjio or John Michael Boswell

Tight End – Michael Williams, Chris Underwood

H-Back – PrestonDial, Brad Smelley

Quarterback – Greg McElroy, A.J. McCarron, Phillip Sims

Running Back – Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, Demetrius Goode or Corey Grant

Wide Receiver – Julio Jones, Earl Alexander or Brandon Gibson

Wide Receiver – Marquis Maze or Darius Hanks, Kenny Bell or Kevin Norwood

Defense

End – Marcell Dareus, Undra Billingsley or Darrington Sentimore

Nose Tackle – Josh Chapman, Kerry Murphy or Nick Gentry

End – Luther Davis, DamionSquare, Brandon Moore

Strongside Linebacker – Chavis Williams, Alex Watkins, Jonathan Atchison

Middle Linebacker – Dont'a Hightower, Chris Jordan or Nico Johnson

Weakside Linebacker – Jerrell Harris, Nico Johnson or C.J. Mosley

Jack Linebacker – Courtney Upshaw, Ed Stinson, Adrian Hubbard

Right Cornerback—DeQuan Menzie, B.J. Scott or DeMarcus Milliner

Left Cornerback – Dre Kirkpatrick, Phelon Jones or John Fulton

Strongside Safety – Mark Barron, Nick Perry or Will Lowery

Safety – Robert Lester, Jarrick Williams or Will Lowery

Specialists

Placekicker – Cade Foster or Jeremy Shelley

Kickoff – Cade Foster

Holder – A.J. McCarron, Greg McElroy

Punter – Jay Williams or Cody Mandell

Snapper – Carson Tinker, David Ross

Punt Return – Julio Jones, Darius Hanks or Marquis Maze

Kickoff Return – Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Mark Ingram

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