2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Alabama Offense
Finish off longer drives a bit better. It’s a bit like telling Kim Kardashian that she has a hair out of place, but the Alabama offense occasionally had issues closing drives with points, especially against the big boys.
It was able to hit the big play and score from anywhere on the field, and it’s not hyperbole to suggest that all of the starting skill guys would start in the NFL this season. But for such a potent attack, it faltered a bit too often in the red zone.
Again, this is getting way hyper-critical for what should be an other unstoppable attack, but Bama came away without points on 14 trips inside the 20. This was an issue in 2017, too, but that was more because of the shaky kicking game.
The placekicking was rock solid over the second half of last season with no missed field goals over the last eight games. Even so, Bama scored just 12-of-16 times in the red zone against Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson. And as far as the kicking game going into this year … more on that in a moment.
Biggest Key To The Alabama Defense
The young guys up front have to grow up fast. Boo hoo – Alabama has experience issues on its defensive front three.
Most programs would trade their entire defensive starting 11 for even one of the stars on the Tide line, but it’s still asking for a whole lot to expect true freshmen to be ready to handle the rigors of the SEC world right away.
Tackles Antonio Alfano and Ishmael Sopsher were the big gets in the latest recruiting class, but it was three-star prospect DJ Dale who stepped up this spring and grabbed ahold of one of the jobs in the interior.
Raekwon Davis and LaBryan Ray are the veteran upperclassmen up front, and 6-4, 317-pound sophomore Phidarian Mathis will likely be the starter on the nose after fall camp – unless Dale keeps this up – but the season relies on a bunch of teenagers being ready to man up.
Key Player To A Successful Season
P/PK Will Reichard, Fr.
And/or sophomore Joseph Bulovas. And go ahead and throw in punters Skyler DeLong and Mike Bernier in there, too.
No mater how this all shakes out, at some point, the team will need a big blast somewhere, and it’s going to take a true freshman to likely make it happen.
The placekicking was strong over the second half to last season once Bulovas settled in, but he had an okay spring and a rocky final scrimmage. He was able to crank out three 40+ yard field goals, but the door is open for the new guy.
Bulovas could solve the woeful punting game as well as extend the options on field goals. Bama averaged just 35.8 yards per boot and rarely flipped the field. Look for Reichard to start at punter and for Bulovas to hang in the placekicking job.
Key Game To The Alabama Season
at Texas A&M, Oct. 12
Bama should be able to roll out of bed and start out 5-0 – even with a date at South Carolina. However, lose to what’s going to be a jacked up Texas A&M squad coming off a week off to rest up and get ready, and there’s going to be a world of issues.
Lose, and the pressure is on with LSU still to face at home, and with road games at Mississippi State and Auburn late in the year. Lose, and there’s no margin for error. Win, and Bama can go 11-1 and almost certainly get into the CFP with or without the SEC Championship.
– Alabama Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Alabama Fun Stats
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Alabama 233 – Opponents 59
– Sacks: Alabama 45 for 270 yards – Opponents 15 for 121 yards
– Average Yards Per Pass: Alabama 11.1 – Opponents 6.5