Tide notebook: Plenty of faces at cornerback, but the position still struggles
by Marq Burnett
Sep 24, 2013 | 1859 views |  0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Big Al waves a flag before Alabama's win over Colorado State. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Big Al waves a flag before Alabama's win over Colorado State. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
TUSCALOOSA -- With injuries and poor performance, spots in Alabama’s secondary have become revolving doors, particularly at cornerback.

Through three games, six players have started or seen significant playing time at cornerback: Deion Belue, John Fulton, Cyrus Jones, Bradley Sylve and true freshmen Eddie Jackson and Maurice Smith. There’s also safety Jarrick Williams and cornerback Geno Smith, who play the “star” position, Alabama’s fifth defensive back in nickel and dime packages. Belue has been slowed by a toe injury, and Williams missed the last game with eye trouble.

“We need to play better in the secondary,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “We still gave up four big-play passes in the (Colorado State) game. They weren’t 70-yarders but they were 20 or 25-yarders. And most of them were some sort of mental error by somebody, not always in the secondary but somebody.

“The same thing exists in the secondary. Most of it is technique and doing your assignment and understanding how to do your job.”

Saban said it “would be great” to get Belue back and he is “probably our best corner.”

Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix said he spoke with the young players before the game.

“I told them that they have a great advantage,” he said. “My freshman year, I didn’t get a chance to start a game, so for them to come out and show their skills at such a young age, just be happy. Just go out there and have fun.

“It’s great to have that type of depth. The 2’s of the defense are just as good as the 1’s, so we expect them come in and know what to do.”

OFFENSIVE LINE: Alabama’s offensive line reverted to its sub-par performance of week one against Colorado State, and Saban and players said communication is still an issue.

"Honestly, communication. We’ve got to communicate better,” right tackle Austin Shepherd said. “Making calls, making sure the offensive line knows where to go, who the Mike is, everything in that aspect. Pretty much we just got to talk to each other more."

Center Ryan Kelly said the team is blocking out the outside noise and only worrying about themselves.

“You just kind of ignore the external factors that come with college football, especially playing at Alabama -- the big games, the big stadiums,” Kelly said. “You just have to focus on the game plan and what you have to do. Also, the speed of the game comes into play. The more you play, the more you get acclimated to it and the better you are.”
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