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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #3 Alabama

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 24, 2016

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide

2015 Recap:
What can you say other than 14-1 and another National Championship. The lone blemish on the Crimson Tide record was their week three loss at home against Ole Miss. As good and dominant as Alabama has shown it can be it's very hard and nearly impossible for an SEC school to run the table.


Coaching:
It's Nick Saban and dare we say he might be eclipsing the huge shadow of Paul "Bear" Bryant and establishing himself as the greatest coach in the history of the program. Saban is a mind boggling 105-18 at Alabama and has delivered four National Titles. Lane Kiffin has proven to be a great fit as offensive coordinator but Alabama loses it's starting quarterback and leading rusher from last season meaning there will be big changes. Jeremy Pruitt faces similar challanges with a defensive unit that saw many of it's players lost to the NFL.


Offense

Another quarterback will start for Alabama but does it really matter? It doesn't seem to phase the Crimson Tide, no matter who the quarterback is by the end of the year they are playing championship quality football. Will it be Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett or Jalen Hurts when the Crimson Tide suit up against USC to open the season? Our hunch is Hurts but we think the Crimson Tide will let multiple quarterbacks get a look in the first couple of games of the year. Bo Scarborough will be the tailback and all he has to do is replace a Heisman Trophy winner in Derrick Henry. The offensive line is no problem and tackle Cam Robinson looked like he woiuld be locked in a battle with Florida State's Roderick Johnson to see who the top lineman for the upcoming Draft would be (if both declare). Robinson has had some off the field issues but will not miss any time for Alabama. yet guard Alphonse Taylor will (gotta keep them boosters happy people). The exciting part for this offense is the weapons catching the football. Calvin Ridley posted 89-1,045-7 as a freshman and he is flanked by ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster. Throw in Bowling Green graduate transfer Gehrig Dieter and tight end O.J. Howard and you have the makings of one of the best overall receiving units in the country.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Cam Robinson OT 1st Round 2017 (Early Declaration and top lineman off board, likely being a top five selection overall).

                                       Calvin Ridley WR 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration).


Defense

Five starters return from the defense that ranked  third in the nation in total defense and scoring defense and only two of the front seven return. The reserves for Alabama all saw significant time last year and the second string players on Alabama would qualify as one of the ten best defensive lines in the nation if they could. Alabama routinely has the deepest line around and they were tops against the run a year ago allowing a measely 75.7 YPG. Jonathan Allen was the lone returnee along the defensive line and he could have been the best Alabama trotted out there a season ago. Allen and his 12 sacks will be near the top of the SEC once again and he will have plenty of help from the likes of Da'Shawn Hand, Dalvin Tomlinson and Da'Ron Payne. The best pure pass rusher may be outside linebacker Tim Williams who can come from either side as Reuben Foster patrols the middle. The entire secondary looks like they are potential NFL players and three of the four players are sophomores. Marlon Humphrey, Eddie Jackson, Ronnie Harrison, Minkah Fitzpatrick will start with freshman Kendell Sheffield likely becoming the third corner.

Best Draft Prospects: Jonathan Allen DE 1st Round 2017.

                                      Reuben Foster LB 1st/2nd Round 2018.


Special Teams:

Adam Griffith had some accuracy issues but he has as much leg as any kicker at the FBS level. J.K. Scott is one of the best punters in the NCAA and he looks like a lock to make it to the next level. We might see a carousel in the return game but Alabama has so many athletes that the return game is always top notch. Kick coverage will be at a premium as it always is with a Nick Saban coached team.


Schedule:

USC is the team that gets Alabama to open the season and the game will be in Arlington, Texas. Alabama gets a crack at Ole Miss in week 3...the same week where they dropped the game a year ago and this time they have to travel to Ole Miss to play it. October 8th and October and 15th offers a pair of difficult road games with Arkansas and tennessee. this pair was only beaten by a total of 16 points last season and tennessee looks to be better than they were a season ago. LSU is a road game and we always know that is a war and Auburn will come to Alabama to close out the regular season.

Draft and Overall Outlook:

There is no shortage of Draft talent as Alabama and Ohio State continually lead the way with the amount of prospects that have been placed at the next level. This is a season of change in Alabama but the coaching and depth is so incredible that the Alabama B Team would probably be ranked if you made them a seperate school.

DJ Boyer