Which team can lose its three year starting quarterback, Butkus Award winning linebacker, twelve other players to the NFL, and still be heavy favorites to make the college football playoffs? Only Alabama!
If Nick Saban taught us anything it is to never count out Alabama. Let me paint this picture for you. Alabama is coming off a disappointing end to their previous season. They lost multiple starters including their multi-year starting QB. Does that sound familiar? Well, this was the situation in 2009 and 2011 and we all know what happened in those years.
The 2014 Alabama Crimson Tide might be the most talented team in the nation. They will return multiple future NFL draft picks on offense and defense. Former Jameis Winston backup, Jacob Coker, is already getting Heisman consideration; probably because of the weapons he will have. Amari Cooper is one the best WR in the nation. Christion Jones is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. DeAndrew White, Chris Black, Robert Foster, Raheem Falkins and newcomer Cameron Sims will add great depth to the passing attacking. O.J. Howard is a mixmatch at the TE positon. Oh yea, there are also 3 great running backs. TJ Yeldon is only 1,155 yards away from Shaun Alexander’s record and 16 TDs away from Mark Ingram’s record. Both of those records are quite doable…except there is this stud called Derrick Henry who will demand carries. Getting everyone involved will be task of new Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin. Kiffin has experience in this before during this time at USC under Pete Carroll. Remember Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Matt Leinhart, Dwayne Jarrett, and Steve Smith anyone? This offense should be exciting.
The defense should be better than last year. Nick Saban did his annual Kansas City Shuffling of his coaching staff and it might pay off. Chris Rumph and Greg Brown “resigned” and took positions at other colleges. Kirby Smart added secondary to his list of duties and Kevin Steele stepped down from Director of Player Personnel to take over the inside linebackers job. In my humble opinion, the most exciting coaching change was bringing back Bo Davis as defensive line coach. Alabama had a brick wall defensive line when Bo Davis was leading the pack. Now he’s back with some new tools to play with A’Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen, Jarran Reed, Tim Williams, Dee Liner, Brandon Ivory, Dalvin Tomlinson and incoming freshman Da’Shawn Hand and Josh Frazier. The linebacker unit lost C.J. Mosley but Denzel Devall is expected to fill in as leader of the front seven. Landon Collins is arguable the best defensive in the nation and he will lead a very young but talented secondary.
Alabama’s schedule is not that hardest one out there…but it’s not a cakewalk neither. Alabama kicks off the season in Ben Hill Griffin Bryant-Denny Dome against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Alabama is currently 6-4 in the Georgia Dome but 4-0 when it’s against a non-Florida Gators team. The Crimson Tide has won the previous three Chick-fil-A Kickoff matchups by a 103-44 margin of victory. The Tide looks to regain its national powerhouse status early but a beat down on West Virginia will not surprise anybody. The first true team will come September 20th against the Florida Gators. The Gators will be returning one of the best defenses in the nation with their own outstanding pass rush and lockdown corner. Alabama will have a bye week before their next text against Ole Miss at Oxford. Ole Miss has all the talent to win the SEC West…but which Bo Wallace will show up to this game? Bama has TAMU at home and will travel to face a much improved Tennessee Vols team. After this second bye week, Bama will head down to the Baton Rouge to face the Bayou Bengals. Many experts are writing off LSU this season, but never count out the Mad Hatter. Alabama will finish the regular season with THE most anticipated game of the season…The Iron Bowl. Alabama will be looking for payback and will go full throttle (see 2011 Iron Bowl). If they win the West, a matchup with UGA or South Carolina looms in Atlanta.
Best Case Scenario: 13-0 2nd Seed in the College Football Playoffs
Realistic Scenario: 12-1 SEC Champs and still 2nd Seed in College Football Playoffs
Worst Case Scenario: 10-2 and an Orange Bowl selection