One name we’ll miss this season

I called it back in 2008.  Our aubie friends were all ga-ga over their latest can’t-miss quarterback from Arkansas, Kodi Burns (remember him?).  They were also giddy about their fad-offense-of-the-month, the Tony Franklin spread.

I couldn’t have been more right about either.  Tony didn’t even make it to abarn’s championship game that season (the Iron Bowl)  and Burns now plays receiver.

I said abarn would miss having a real offense, and even more, they would miss the quarterback so many of them loved to hate, Brandon Cox.  You can read it here.

And on a side note, I’ll reserve space for a future article like this one on my prediction about their current dispy-doo, trickeroo offense and their impotent head coach, Frank Chiznik (thank you forever for that name, Larry Langford).

This time, I’ll turn the microscope on Alabama.  While the wound won’t be as gaping as the Cox departure, the biggest difference on the 2010 Alabama team will be the absence of…

Rolondo McClain?  While by far the best linebacker we’ve put in the NFL since Derrick Thomas or Cornelius Bennett, Dont’a Hightower is cut from the same cloth, physically and mentally. And Nico Johnson isn’t far behind.

Terrence Cody?  A space eater, Cody’s absence will be felt, but Josh Chapman, the strongest man on the team, will stand in the gap and do more than just hold his own.

Where the biggest void will be felt this season is the void left by the departure of Javier Arenas.

Arenas was a freak.  Fast as lightning, if he came off the corner on a blitz your quarterback was sacked. Period.  Watch a highlight film of 2008 or 2009 and count how many times Javy was in the backfield.

Short in stature, he became a pretty decent cover corner as well.  Dre Kirkpatrick possesses the physique that God drew up for cornerbacks.  Javy didn’t have Dre’s long arms and broad gate when he ran.  Still, he was so pesky, teams eventually gave up and had to go away from him.

But the biggest difference we’ll see this season was in Javy’s ability to flip the field on kick-off and punt returns.  He had, hands down, the best field vision I have ever seen in a college returner.  Able to wait on blocks that were happening, or see the ones that were about to happen. David Palmer is often thought of as the greatest returner at Alabama, with his slippery moves and stop-on-a-dime ability.  But Javy’s stats were better, and with the ball in his hands, if you hated Crimson, he scared you to death until he was on the ground.

Not to mention his sure-handedness.  He had a couple of flubs in 2008, but by 2009, literally if his life was on the line, he wasn’t going to fumble a punt return.  Early indication is that Julio will return punts this season, which tells you that certainty of protecting the football is most key in the coaching staff’s minds. Julio doesn’t have the elusiveness of Arenas. But package sure-handedness with explosive yardage gobbling ability, and you have Javy Arenas.

In 2007 when Arenas went down with an ankle injury against La.Monroe, I knew any chance we had against abarn the following week was gone.  He was our sole playmaker at that point in the season. Now understand me…losing him (to graduation) for 2010 will not be as detrimental.  We have playmakers on this team galore, and I love what I’m hearing about our core of new defensive backs.  And if what I am hearing about Blake Sims turns out to be true, who I think will eventually find himself returning punts, we may forget Javy and Palmer.

But still, the one player I’ll miss the most this upcoming season will be little #28.  He is definitely in my top ten favorite Bama players of all time, and until other players we have in progress develop, we’ll be securing punt returns rather than taking them to the house.

18 Comments

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  1. 2
    bamadon

    You are right about Arenas missing his punt returns, but the one
    thing I am still nervous about is right tackle on the offensive line.
    The Davis kid did a good job the last 2 years and was a road grader for Ingram and company. The defense will come around
    and still be good with a better pass rush than last year!! RTR

  2. 3
    J.w.

    When you lose so many on defense like we did it takes time to jell as we all know.By the third or fourth game defense should be in its groove.And i hope before that.Javy was the best any where he played and will be missed big time.But the one thing i do not like is Julio on returns.We do not need him hurt trying to field punts.But the one i will miss very much is Mount Cody because he took up so much room and teams would use two or three players to stop him.That always would free up Rolondo or Javy for a sack on QB.Any way enough talk ,lets play some dam BALL..ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  3. 4
    Alex Hamilton

    Whether you have the more talented team, many games are close in the SEC.

    I agree, Bama will miss Arenas. He was why Bama beat Tulane by a wide margin in 08. He also almost beat LSU in 07.

    We will miss Tiffin and Fitzgerald a lot. It was automatic that those two would perform over the past two seasons. Both are going to be replaced by freshman. And that is why Bama “might” lose one close game. Inexperience at kicker and punter.

  4. 5
    julio

    Shockingly, I agree with ITK (on Arenas, that is.) Arenas changed the field position advantage for Bama more times than you will ever recall. I do think you’re wrong about McClain being easiy replaced by DH. No knock on DH, but Bama’s had a grand total of 3 other LB’s in its history the caliber of RM. You don’t just seamlessly replace a guy like that (although as an amazing coincidence, Derrick Thomas did iimediately follow Cornelius Bennett.) You’re also gonna miss a little guy named Tiffin. If you think you can replace that guy with a freshman, just remember Tiffin in the Arkansas game when he was a freshman.

  5. 7
    13andCounting

    If only I could be as knowledgable about Auburn Football history…..

    Could someone clue me in? I’m sure I’m missing out…..

  6. 8
    ITK

    I didn’t say Rolondo would be easily replaced, but that Dont’a is cut from the same cloth. The coaches are impressed with his understanding of the schemes, and couldn’t believe they had two middle linebackers last season that grasped it to that level…fate would take care of one of them. Still, there is a drop off from RM, but not as stark as from Javy to anybody else…or for the same of my first argument in 2008, Cox to Burns.

  7. 9
    julio

    Yeah 13, AU hasn’t had any great players in its history. Guys like Sullivan, Jackson, Tracy Rocker, Terry Beasley, Joe Cribbs, William Andrews, Aundray Bruce, Cadillac, Ronnie Brown…those guys sucked.

  8. 11
    13andCounting

    Julio, thanks for the response. I think you just summed up Auburn Football history with one sentence…..A list of players who were good that played for Auburn.

    What a relief! It looks like I didn’t miss out on anything! I was kinda thinking when Alabama was winning those National Championships, that Auburn might have been winning World Championships and I didn’t realize it.

    Auburn hasn’t won a World Championship have they?

    Did the Opelika News decide Auburn was World Champions and didn’t tell me. Damn them !!!

  9. 12
    almightytmc1

    Yeah. i was thinking the same thing 12, has auburn won a World championship? Maybe the 1957 team did and no one told us.

  10. 13
    Bama Fan in NYC

    I’ve been a fan of Arenas since hearing he’d be our next Tyrone Prothro during the recruitment process.

    I agree, his shoes are definitely some very big ones to fill, unfortunately.

  11. 14
    BPI

    I for one am glad that Arenas is gone. He was scary good. Probaby the best of the class. ROLO was awesome, but he was a linbacker. Javey was a special teams game changer. Awesome athlete, and I think the Cheifs got a steal with him.

    Tiffen was the best kicker in the country last year. You dont just replace someone like him either.

    Im not pickng yall apart. before the crap starts slingin’ …Yall will be fine.

    Tarrence Cody is another that will be hard to replace. How many 360 pounders with that kind of speed are even alive ?

  12. 16
    BamaBrando

    Dang, I can’t believe that I agree with Ballplay and Julia on this. I think Javy will be missed the most of all the players we lost last year as well. The field position he gave us usually came at the perfect time. Remember the two great returns he had against Auburn that flipped the field? That alone could have saved the season last year, along with Cody’s FG blocks against UT.

  13. 18
    BPI

    Good point ITK….But if you will recall, in someones article about Arenas going to the Cheifs earlier in the month, I said he was the best of the bunch in the 09 recruitng class. I still believe that. He is a player.

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