First and foremost on the agenda
for Shula and the Tide will be filling the quarterback spot in the absence of
Brodie Croyle, who broke nearly every Alabama passing record in the book during
his career. Croyle threw for 2,499 yards and 14 touchdowns during his senior
season, and compiled 6,382 yards for 41 touchdowns while playing for
With Croyle gone, last year's
understudy, J.P. Wilson (6-2, 207, So.), is in position to take the reigns of
the offense, while Marc Guillon (6-3, 212, Sr.) and Jimmy Barnes (6-5, 225, Fr.)
may also share time at the position.
Whoever takes the reigns it Brodie's absence will have plenty of help from their wide receivers, as the Tide is returning two of their SEC's premier wide outs in DJ Hall (6-2, 190, Jr.) and Keith Brown (6-3, 192, Jr.).
Hall led the team in receiving last year with 48 catches for 676 yards and five touchdowns, while Brown hauled in 34 catches for 642 yards and four scores last season.
Returning to lead the Tide's ground attack is running back Kenneth Darby (5-11, 205, Sr.), who led the team in rushing last year with 1,242 yards and three touchdowns. Also returning are full backs Le'Ron McClain (6-1, 256, Sr.) and Tim Castille (5-11, 236, Sr.). McClain has been used as primarily a blocking back in the past, but did manage to haul in two scoring receptions in 2005. Castille led the Tide last season in touchdowns, rushing for seven scores on 45 attempts.
At the tight end position, Travis McCall (6-2, 250, So.) looks to play a larger role for the Tide this season, slated to be the starter in the fall. McCall caught just three passes last season, and got his first collegiate start in the Cotton Bowl against Texas Tech.
The offensive line will be returning starters at four spots, including Chris Capps (6-6. 286, Jr.) at left tackle, Antoine Caldwell (6-3, 296, So.) at center, B.J. Stabler (6-4, 295, So.) at right guard and Kyle Tatum (6-8, 290, Sr.) at right tackle. The left guard position was filled in the spring by Justin Moon (6-5, 290, Jr.), who saw playing time in all 12 games last season.
Likely to play a large roll on the
line next year will also be new-comer Andre Smith (6-4, 315) out of
Defensively, Alabama will be looking fill in several positions after losing seven starters from last years squad that allowed just 14 touchdowns 12 games, holding their opponents to 10.7 points per game.
Anchoring the Tide's defense this season will be line backer Juwan Simpson (6-3, 222, Sr.), who tallied 64 tackles in 2005, and last corner back Ramzee Robinson (5-10, 190, Sr.). The only other returning starters to the defense will be left end Wallace Gilberry (6-3, 254, Jr.) and left tackle Jeremy Clark (6-3, 305, Sr.).
Filling in on the right side of the
defensive line this year will likely be Dominic Lee (6-2, 303, Sr.) at tackle
and Bobby Greenwood (6-6, 245, So.) at end.
The defensive backfield holds the
most question marks for
Potential starters to replace Roach and Ryans include Matt Collins (6-1, 241, Jr.) and Terrance Jones (6-1, 220, Sr.), though incoming freshmen Charlie Kirschman (6-3, 255), LaBronski Hutchins (6-3, 190) and Charlie Higgenbotham (6-0, 210) could also play roles in the 2006 season.
The safety and corner back spots
are even more wide open, with
On special teams, Jamie Christiensen (6-0, 178, Jr.) will be returning to the kicker position, while P.J. Fitzgerald (6-0, 190, Fr.) will be filling the role of punter.
Christiensen made 16 of 25 field goal attempts, and 25 of 26 extra points last season.
Tyrone Prothro (5-8, 178, Sr.) and DJ Hall will be the Tide's leading kick returners this season, With Prothro claiming the lead role for the third consecutive year. In 2005, he averaged 27.6 yards per kickoff return and 7.4 yards per punt.
All-Time Series: 21-43-5
Stadium: Bryant-Denny (92,138)
1895, LSU 12,
2005, LSU 16,
Head Coach: Mike Shula, 20-18
3 years at
2005 in Review: 10-2, 6-2 SEC
Final '05 Ranking: 8th AP and Coaches
Off. / Def. Systems: Multiple / 4-3
Returning Starters: 14; 9 offense, 4 defense
Last Bowl Appearance: 2006 Cotton Bowl
Last Conference Championship: 1999
Total Offense: 358.9 (7th - SEC / 67th - NCAA)
Rushing Offense: 142.5 (6th - SEC / 65th - NCAA)
Passing Offense: 216.4 (6th - SEC / 69th - NCAA)
Scoring Offense: 21.9 (8th - SEC / 85th - NCAA)
Total Defense: 255.1 (1st - SEC / 2nd - NCAA)
Rushing Defense: 94.3 (3rd - SEC / 9th - NCAA)
Pass Defense: 160.8 (1st - SEC / 5th - NCAA)
Scoring Defense: 10.7 (1st - SEC / 1st - NCAA)
Turnover Margin: +8 (3rd - SEC / 22nd - NCAA)
Rushing: Kenneth Darby – 239 carries, 1242 YARDS, 3 TD
Passing: J.P. Wilson – 11-7-0, 98 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: D.J. Hall – 48 catches, 676 yards, 5 TD
Tackles: Juwan Simpson – 64 TT (35 S, 12 A)
Date Opponent '05 Result
S-9 Vanderbilt ---
S-16 Louisiana-Monroe ---
O-7 Duke ---
O-14 Ole Miss W, 13-10
N-11 at LSU L, 16-13
View From the Other Side:
All seven of those 2006 defenders–headed up by Lott Award winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year DeMeco Ryans–are now in NFL camps.
But Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines may have more big guns.
Two of the biggest surprises of spring training were on the defensive line. Junior Keith Saunders moved ahead of soph Bobby Greenwood (2005 back-up) to replace Mark Anderson. Senior Dominic Lee, who has been injured throughout his Tide career, is healthy and had an excellent spring at nose tackle, where he is replacing Rudy Griffin.
At strongside linebacker, Ryans will be replaced by senior Terrence Jones, who has been a solid backup for three years. Freddie Roach was Bama's middle linebacker, and his spot will be taken by either junior Matt Collins, last year's backup, or redshirt freshman Prince Hall, one of the Tide's best athletes.
Junior Simeon Castille, who has been a nickel back starter the past two years, will replace Anthony Madison at right cornerback. Senior Jeffrey Dukes, a very good backup the past two years, will replace Charlie Peprah at strong safety.
The only real concern is at safety,
where Roman Harper was an all-star performer. Junior Marcus Carter has the
physical ability, but
- Kirk McNair,