Previewing the Tide

We’re just a few weeks away from the opening weekend of college football and more and more news stories are starting to fly on who will win the championship or the SEC and so on. Of course at the top of most of the talk are the defending National Champions the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Nick Saban has a proven track record that no matter what players he loses or what games he has on his schedule, he’s going to have a team that is going to compete for championships. However, the Tide does have some depth issues that they have to address. Alabama will have to replace 6-7 starters on offense along with 8 starters on defense. On offense, Alabama loses quarterback Jake Coker along with Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry. However, the most important loss could be center Ryan Kelly, who was a first round draft pick as a center, which is rare.

On defense, the Tide will have to deal with losses to what was an explosive front seven a year ago. Six players will be gone from that front including middle linebacker Reggie Ragland and defensive end A’Shawn Robinson.

Despite losing 8 starters on defense, Alabama played with a very deep defense last year and have several players back this year who saw action last year including Tim Williams and Jonathan Allen who are both projected first round picks.

On offense, Alabama will go through their third quarterback competition in as many years with Cooper Bateman believed to be the favorite. Alabama also has talented replacements for Henry in Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris but both are lacking in meaningful game experience. They will also be playing with a new look offensive line as only Cam Robinson will be back as his same position (Ross Pierschbacher moved to center and Alphonse Taylor was demoted). Alabama does have a very talented receiving corp that features Calvin Ridley, Ardarius Stewart and Robert Foster.

The danger of the Tide’s schedule comes in the beginning with games against USC, who is young but talented, and Ole Miss, who have defeated the Tide the past two years. Big games like that early on put a lot of pressure on a team with a lot of inexperience like Alabama, especially on offense. However, Saban is known for plugging the next guy in and if he can help the Tide navigate those games along with a road trip to Tennessee, Alabama should be in good position to compete for a 17th title.

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