The Alabama Crimson Tide check in at No. 4 in the College Football News rankings. Here are five things that matter heading into Crimson Tide’s 2016 season.
That was great, now do it again
If it seems like Nick Saban isn’t having any fun, that’s because he doesn’t get a chance to. Great, he just won another national title – but then it’s right back into the world of unrealistic expectations.
There’s a ton of work to do on both sides of the ball, and it’s not fair to simply assume that the program can replace national title-level stars with more who can step in and do the same thing, except Alabama and Saban routinely replace national title-level stars with more who can step in and do the same thing.
Starting the season at No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches polls, there’s no chance to take a breather of any sort. Win the national title, or the season doesn’t work – that’s where Alabama football is at right now under Saban.
The defense will be the defense again
It really is amazing. Who loses two NFL starting defensive lineman off the front three and just goes on like it’s business as usual? Alabama has cranked out elite run defense after elite run defense, and it’s not about to slow down now despite losing A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed.
How does this all work so well? The Crimson Tide recruit so many great defensive lineman that they’re able to rotate the stars and keep everyone fresh. And they’re about to do it again.
The offense starts with the receivers
Jake Coker wasn’t Tom Brady, but he won a national title. Derrick Henry and Kenyon Drake are NFL-caliber running backs who are gone, too. There are replacements who can step in and try doing more of the same, but unlike last year, the big strength now appears to be the receiving corps.
Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart, and tight end O.J. Howard are all special, and they’re going to give the offense an even more explosive element – and it’s not like the offense was lacking for pop last year. There won’t be any problem taking the top off of defenses.
The offense will be better on third downs
Even with a continually unsettled quarterback situation, and even though the offense is hoping for Bo Scarbrough to step in and be the new Derrick Henry, there should be an improvement on third downs.
The Crimson Tide won a national title despite converting just 37% of the time on third down. Considering Alabama hasn’t been below 40% since 2009, don’t expect the same problems this year.
What’s going to happen?
It’ll be a total disaster of a season – Alabama will lose two games.
Road contests at Tennessee and LSU are the two landmines the Crimson Tide won’t be able to sidestep, but they’ll still crush and kill just about everything else in their path. The program is way overdue to lose one extra game on a quirky day when things don’t go quite right, and this is the year it’s going to happen.