Thursday, August 13, 2009

CFB Preview

#7 Alabama

Offense: 4 Starters return, WR's Mike McCoy and Julio Jones. The O-Line returns Mike Johnson and Drew Davis, both seniors. As of right now JR Greg McElroy is slated to start at QB. and r-FR Star Jackson is #2. I mention this simply because of his name.

Defense: 9 starters return on a defense that gave up 13 ppg. Highlights include geological formation Terrence Cody, JR LB Rolando McClain (Led team in tackles) SO LB Dont'a Hightower and SR SS Justin Woodall (4 picks last year) and SR CB Javier Arenas.

Special Teams: Don't care.

Initial Thoughts: What better way to get over Darren Evans ACL than to talk about the team that they play in the highly anticipated opener!!!

First things first. I thought Alabama was going to have another mediocre season last year, and this year would be the one where they started making a move back to relevancy. Alabama-1 Lattimer-0. I like the schedule for this year. We all know about the opener against Tech, and we will talk more about that at another time, but I will say it is nice to see teams go out and schedule big non-conference games. Bama then opens up SEC competition when Arkansas comes to Tuscaloosa on Sep. 26. And let's face it, the SEC is the SEC. One thing Bama has going for them is that they don't play either Florida or Georgia from the East. The big games will be at Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU at home, and the Iron Bowl in Auburn this year.

Now I've said it before, and I know I'll say it again, but you have to give Saban credit for knowing what he wants in a team. Bama is set up once again to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense. Offensively, it seems that SO Mark Ingram will handle the bulk of the load but also look for true freshman Trent Richardson to be in the mix. The Tide is not that experienced at QB, but like I mentioned earlier Saban never really needs a world beater at QB, and it's not like they won't have targets to throw to. We all know about Julio, but Mike McCoy also returns, and I'm fairly certain that with Saban's recruiting there is some talent on the roster not listed at #1 at this point. As long as McElroy or Star have time they'll be ok. Which brings us to the O-Line. Bama has to replace three spots from one of the top O-lines last year. Two of those spots will be filled by upper classmen with Vlachos and Ross slated at center and guard respectively. Which brings us to the position Old Booker Pogue pointed me towards. The LT. As far as I can tell right now Juco transplant James Carpenter is running with the first team. However, things could change. There is also this Tyler Love guy who I can't figure out. He's a 5-star and took a medical redshirt last year. I'm assuming he's still getting over an injury, but someone could fill me in. Point is I think the O-line will be solid. Not dominant like last year, simply solid.

With the offense being what it is the unit that will have to be lights out is the defense, and they definitely have the capability to do that. Cody and McClain are first teamers on several All-American lists and the likes of Hightower, Woodall, and Arenas are no slouches. Also look for true frosh Dre Kirkpatrick to contribute. In short the defense is great, and they will need to show up every week because....

I actually think Alabama should repeat as the SEC west. The Tech game will be huge, but it doesn't necessarily eliminate MNC hopes for both teams I mean it would suck to lose, but all hope is not lost. It's redundant, but the SEC schedule will be huge. We'll know fairly early in the season who has the edge in the West, when Alabama travels to Oxford. I mentioned earlier that we'll have to wait and see how both teams play before big time predictions are made, but as of right now I'm giving the edge to Alabama. Main reason is that Ole Miss is getting so much hype that they won't be surprising anyone. Luckily they get LSU at home after a bye week, and I think LSU is going to be better than some people think, in fact they probably deserve their own post. Anyway, Tennessee will be better than last year, but not win in Tuscaloosa better. Shit also can get crazy in the Iron Bowl, but Auburn is in a giant funk. Regardless, we could see a situation like last year where Bama goes undefeated in SEC play, and with the way things shake out in that conference one SEC loss could also put them in the SEC championship for the right to play Tim Tebow. And...well....I think we all know what that means.


  1. Alabama could definitely repeat if McElroy can manage the game. They say he's had a really good offseason, but that usually changes the first time you play a full speed SEC (or Tech) defense in a game situation that matters.

    That's the one reason (besides being a homer) I give Ole Miss the edge in the meeting in Oxford. McElroy will only be facing his second good defense of the year, Tech being the first. Then they play FIU, Arkansas (good offense, defense is still a work in progress), and Kentucky.

    I think the Tide will finish out the season strong, regardless of how they start the season. Arkansas could be a trap game for Bama. Their offense could break a few big plays on Saban's defense.

  2. Bama's losses on the season are probably going to be roughly equivalent to the average number of sacks they surrender per game.

    McElroy is going to need a few games to figure out how to pass out of play action against savage defensive ends that eat shards of whiskey bottles for film session snacks. He'll also probably overthrow Julio 2 out of 3 times the first couple games.

    I sort of see Bama's season resting squarely on their success on the O-Line. As a guy who didn't play high level ball, my question is can you picture a tougher scenario than having a gap running, play action team replace it's QB, C, and LT?

  3. Devin's insights, while accurate, reek of homerism.

  4. Both good points.

    I was looking at Arkansas and thinking that they still didn't have the types of players to make a big splash, but point well taken. Another thing the hogs have for them is that this is the first year future first round draft pick Ryan Mallet will get to play in Petrino's pro friendly offense. I still think it's going to come down to Bama's offensive ability for the season and the ole miss game. If they are woefully awful then I don't think the defense can handle the pressure. But basically in terms of ole miss and bama I still want to see if the rebel offense is anything else besides sneed, and if bama can consistently run the ball.

    Which brings me to Booker Pogue's excellent points about the O-line. To be honest I tried as much as I could stomach looking at bama sites/papers to see if the O-line situation was horrendous. After sifting through the typical alabama homerism I'm still left wondering as much as you. Digging through phil steele and rivals the only thing I'm left with is that although they are replacing 3 starters the guys (that are penciled in now) are either upperclassmen or relatively good prospects. The Juco guy carpenter was a 4 star out of high school, and remember Cody was also a Juco transplant.

    More on point to your question, I was somewhat misleading when I called them a gap run team. They do run a good amount of gap schemes but they also run wide and tight zone. Suffice it to say, they are decidedly "pro" in their run game approach. So in the end yeah, the offensive success will depend on the O-line, specifically their ability to open lanes for the running game, which makes all that play action, 3 step, boots/waggles, all that much easier. It also takes a considerable amount of pressure off of whoever is QB.

    Again, this is just what I found so if anyone has a better idea of what the real o-line situation is I'd love to hear it.

  5. Another interesting point is that Saban is under the Belicheck coaching tree, which is really the Parcells tree. The Parcells doctrine states: "you must run the football with power and have a defense which stops the run." Either way, the emphasis is on the defense.