The college football season can’t come soon enough. With every season comes new faces and possibilities. Who will be the teams to watch out for this season? This will be the 23rd of many posts covering the top 25 teams in the country and will cover the no. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Alabama lost just one game last season, in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. They got into the College Football Playoff without a conference championship and made the most of their opportunity. The Crimson Tide beat Georgia in overtime of the National Championship Game to keep their dynasty going. They lost a lot of players to the NFL, but new, talented players are in abundance.
The offense ranked 15th in scoring, 13th in rushing, but 91st in passing. They’ll hope to improve the passing offense with a possible change at quarterback and seven returning starters should help keep the other rankings stable.
Jalen Hurts has started the last two seasons at quarterback, but most people around the country think Tua Tagovailoa will be taking the starting snaps this season. He got playing time sparingly during the regular season and became a star when he led Alabama to a comeback victory in the National Championship Game. His arm talent is the best on the roster and he does have some mobility to go with it. If Tagovailoa does struggle, it will be nice for Alabama to have Hurts waiting in the wings.
New faces at receiver will need to fill in, but Henry Ruggs III was surprisingly productive as a freshman last season. While he registered just 229 receiving yards, he got to the end zone six times. Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith will aid Ruggs III in replacing Calvin Ridley’s production from last season. Tight end Hale Hentges will reclaim his spot at tight end.
Damien Harris surprisingly decided to return to school instead of going to the NFL. He rushed for 1,000 yards on 7.4 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns. He will join Najee Harris in a loaded backfield that will do a lot of damage on the ground.
The offensive line will be the most experienced unit on the team with four starters returning. Left tackle Jonah Williams and guard Ross Pierschbacher will be two of the best linemen in the country.
Running the ball will be the forte of this offense, but Tagovailoa could provide the better passing attack to make this offense better than last season.
Only two full-time starters return from last year’s team, so there are a lot of questions to be answered. As always, there will be talent, but it will be hard to rank first in points allowed per game, first against the run and sixth against the pass this season.
Isaiah Buggs and Raekwon Davis will combine to form great defensive ends in their 3-4 scheme. Davis and 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss last season. Buggs was less productive with four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Quinnen Williams will get his shot in the middle of the defensive line at nose tackle.
Anfernee Jennings returns as a starter at outside linebacker, but Christian Miller will be a new starter. Both will need to get more pressure on the quarterback, as they only had one sack apiece. Dylan Moses and Mack Wilson look like they could be the next great Alabama inside linebackers.
The secondary will be particularly unproven this season. Trevon Diggs and Saivon Smith figure to take over at corner. Their recruiting allows them to have a lot of options if these two players don’t work out. Deionte Thompson and Xavier McKinney will take over at safety. If teams can protect their quarterback and have him complete passes downfield, Alabama is vulnerable.
Alabama has potential on defense, but it will take a while to all come together.
The Crimson Tide plays Louisville (Orlando,FL), Arkansas State (home), Louisiana (home) and the Citadel (home) out of conference. These should all be easy wins, even with Louisville’s trash talk before the game even starts.
In conference, their tough games will be against (home), Missouri (home), LSU (away), Mississippi State (home) and Auburn (home). Getting their two toughest games, Auburn and Mississippi State, at home is a huge boost to Alabama.
Another 11-win (at least) regular season and a trip to the College Football Playoff is in the cards this season for the Crimson Tide.
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