Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction
We have to stop treating the greatness of Alabama football under Nick Saban as a given.
Ask 2020 LSU how easy it is to keep the momentum going.
Ask Michigan, Texas, Florida State, Nebraska, Tennessee, Miami and USC how easy it is to revive a superpower.
Remember, Alabama was a program that lost head coach Dennis Franchione to the perceived better Texas A&M gig.
This was the program that rocked the Mikes before Saban took over – Mike DuBose, the never-got-going Mike Price regime, and the 26-23 Mike Shula run.
For Saban do this at Alabama starting in 2007 – when it was Florida’s SEC – required a whole lot of work, and to do that in 2020 required something just as impressive.
On the fly adaptability.
How many players from Saban’s first Alabama team in 2007 were taken in the 2008 NFL Draft? Zero.
Now, there were a whole lot of very good talents in place from the Shula era that formed the nucleus of the 2009 national championship team, but even then the consistent high-end success wasn’t a given after a 10-3 2010 season.
That 2009 team won on defense – allowing a ridiculous 164 points in 14 games. The 2011 defense was even better on the way to another national title.
Defense, running game, repeat – all at a special level.
Helped by Derrick Henry and an amazing defense that allowed more than 17 points just three times in 15 games, Saban won a national title in 2015 with Jake Coker as his quarterback over a Deshaun Watson-led Clemson team.
There was a passing attack, but what would happen if the program ever got a high-end superstar under center?
Enter Jalen Hurts, then Tua Tagovailoa, then Mac Jones, to go along with a few decent receivers – Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith. But even that wasn’t enough as college football pivoted into a more explosive game.
Saban quickly tried to keep tweaking the team with a more high-octane offensive style and less of an emphasis on his stifling D, but the meltdown against Clemson in Santa Clara and the rise of 2019 LSU made it seem like the Tide couldn’t keep up the pace at the highest of levels.
And then 2020 happened.
Set The Alabama Crimson Tide Regular Season Win Total At … 11
And now it’s an assumption that of course Alabama is going to be the No. 1 team in the country, and of course Saban is going to figure it all out again, and of course all the lost parts are going to instantly be replaced by guys just as good because, you know, The Process.
But really, this isn’t going to be easy.
The D is going to be devastating, and with Bryce Young under center, there might be a slight return to defense, running game, repeat after losing so much talent at receiver.
More than that, this is the year of the super-senior. Bama has a few of them, but everyone in the SEC appears to be getting just about everyone back.
Each and every week will be even more of a fight – now the Tide have to deal with team after team of grown-up men with everyone seemingly returning 20+ starters – and remember, until the College Football Playoff expands, it only takes two losses to screw it all up.
Bama will rip through most of its schedule without breathing hard, but at Florida, at Texas A&M, LSU, at Auburn. There could be a scare from Ole Miss here, a push from Arkansas there, and playing Miami won’t be without its charm, but whatever. Those other four games are the season until the SEC Championship.
It’s not a given that Alabama ends the regular season in Atlanta playing for a third conference title in four years, and it’s not a lock that it’s going to the College Football Playoff again.
And when it does both, appreciate that Saban had to make a bunch of key changes to get there.