April 15, 2008

A-Day Zoom Lens: Jimmy Johns

Each week during the fall football season, BamaOnLine.com subscribers choose the focus of The Zoom Lens, a weekly post-game analysis of a specific position. BOL staff reviews a tape of each game with a play-by-play eye on the position chosen by members. BOL's A-Day coverage includes a Zoom Lens edition as well, and results from Monday's poll are below:

Jimmy Johns35.0 percent
Josh Chapman24.4 percent
Drew Davis22.5 percent
Javier Arenas13.7 percent
William Vlachos4.4 percent

The subject: Linebacker Jimmy Johns.

Statistics: Four tackles (one solo, three assists).

Observations: Though he ran with the first unit all spring, Johns actually didn't start the A-Day game as the first defense opened in a nickel look with an extra defensive back. The expense of a fifth defensive back typically comes at linebacker, and Johns was off the field the entire first series. ... On Johns' first defensive snap, the Crimson squad went right at him at the strongside spot with an out route to tight end Chris Underwood. The pass was complete for seven yards, and Johns put Underwood out of bounds with authority. Two plays later, Johns picked up an assist on an 11-yard rush by Jonathan Lowe that was run away from Johns' side of the field. For much of the first half, Johns was sidelined when Alabama stayed with its nickel package. ... On a couple of plays, Johns caught oustanding blocks by tight end Travis McCall and was taken entirely out of the play, including a knockdown block in the second quarter on a short rush by Terry Grant. The last time he squared off with McCall, however, Johns fared much better. On a strongside sweep to Jeramie Griffin, Johns attacked McCall in the backfield, kept his outside shoulder free and strung the play to the sideline for an assist. ... On special teams, Johns allowed the penetration that resulted in a blocked field goal for Ali Sharrief in the first half. Johns was on the right end of the protection unit, and Sharrief came clean inside of Johns, who went after the corner rusher. ... Late in the third quarter, Johns began to see some action at the weakside spot, allowing him to stay on the field in the nickel. Soon after, however, more reserves entered the game and Johns was off the field again.

Overview: With the White defense in the nickel package for much of the day, Johns' A-Day performance was a little short on total snaps. As coach Nick Saban has noted, aggressiveness and physical skills aren't Johns' problem - what is more important in his development is how quickly he develops enough instincts to "play fast". If those instincts are to be in place in time for the season opener against Clemson Aug.30, Johns will need to make significant strides in fall camp. Nevertheless, his physical skills make him more than just a project. He may be short on polish, but has the size, speed and aggressiveness to be a major factor for UA this fall.

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