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2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #3 Alabama

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 27, 2017

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide

2016 Recap:
Alabama nearly added another National Title to the Trophy Case but they were unable to stop Clemson in the waning seconds of their 35-31 defeat for the title. The loss to Clemson was the only blemish during a 14-1 campaign.


Coaching:
What else can you say about Nick Saban? The man has an 87% winning percentage at Alabama and averages 11 wins a season. The big topic at Alabama will be how the offense will look without Lane Kiffin as Brian Daboll and Mike Locksley get the keys to the offense.

 

Offense

Alabama gets the pleasure of having a quarterback return for another season as a starter, something that hasn't happened with regularity over the last few seasons. Jalen Hurts is far from being the best downfield passer in the SEC but his athletisicm and 954 rushing yards need to be respected and accounted for. Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough will be there to ensure this is old school Alabama smashmouth football. Don't be surprised if both running backs top 1,000 yards rushing. We wouldn't be surprised to see Hurts top 1,000 as well giving 'Bama a trio of 1,000 yard rushers. Calvin Ridley has a chance to be the first wide receiver off the board if he declares for the 2018 Draft. The question becomes if Alabama has enough threats around him to properly stretch the field, this is where missing O.J. Howard will come into play. The real star of the offense that is about to break out is sophomore tackle Jonah Williams who could be the next in a long line of dominant Crimson Tide offensive lineman.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Calvin Ridley WR 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration Candidate).

                                       Jonah Williams OT 1st Round 2019 (Early Declaration Canidate).


Defense

Only five starters return from last season as the NFL came calling a number of Alabama players. Even with the loss of Jonathan Allen, ALabama has the best defensive line in the entire FBS.  Da'Ron Payne and Da'Shawn Hand form a lethal combo up front and remember Alabama rotates lineman as often and as well as any team in the country. Linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton is back after tearing his ACL just 8 months ago. The secondary was the weak link for the defense last year as they ranked 24th against the pass while the team was 1st against the run and in scoring defense. That stat is a little misleading due to teams having to throw so often on Alabama because they were not able to establish a consistent running game. Ronnie Harrison and Minkah Fitzpatrick lead the best starting safety duo in the SEC.

Best Draft Prospects: Da'Shawn Hand DT 1st Round 2018.               

                                      Da'Ron Payne DT 1st/2nd Round 2019.


Special Teams:

JK Scott is one of the best punters in the nation so Alabama has nothing to worry about with the "battle of field position". The return game and placekicker are battles that are still waging on at the time this article was released. Alabama have been exceptional  with their coverage teams so there is a bit of worry in these areas but...it's Alabama...it will be fine.


Schedule:

The Crimson Tide get Florida State to open the year so a top five team will have a losds early on. Ole Miss will be the first conference home game and this is a team that Alabama constantly struggles with. LSU will also be a home game so this is a favorable schedule until you see The Iron Bowl will be  aroad game and Auburn may present a huge challenge for Alabama.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

Alabama will always be favorites to win the SEC and while the conference seems a bit down this year overall it is still Alabamas for the taking. As far as Draft prospects...it's silly to even ask. The Crimson Tide just reload year in and year out.

 

DJ Boyer