Alabama Football: Top 5 Reasons for Tide Fans to Be Optimistic in 2012

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IJanuary 3, 2012

Alabama Football: Top 5 Reasons for Tide Fans to Be Optimistic in 2012

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    There are lots of players graduating and moving on to the NFL from this 2011 Alabama team, one of the top-rated college football teams in all the land.

    And while that may make some people nervous, there are lots of reasons for the fans of the Crimson Tide to be optimistic for the 2012 campaign.

    Here are the top five reasons Tide fans should relax and be optimistic.

    As always, we welcome your comments. Let us know which reasons you liked and didn't like as well as which ones you felt were omitted from the top five.

5. The People Filling Holes Are Fantastic

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    Sure, we're losing a lot of great players, but the ones that are replacing them could have more raw talent than the people they're replacing when they showed up to play those positions.

    Some of the freshmen that will contribute are real stars in the making and others have already proven themselves by time already spent in rotation with the former starters. It's not like the Crimson Tide is going to replace them all with raw rookies.

    Some of the people you'll be seeing are:

    Top 2011 recruit HaSean Dixon who has had a year in the system already - Defensive Back

    Top 2012 recruit Eddie Williams, who may play a strong back up role, either defensive back or receiver.

    Top 2011 JUCO recruit will move over to replace Josh Chapman at nose tackle from defensive end

    Former starter Damion Square will move back to his starting spot at defensive end to take Jesse Williams spot

    With a year of backup work, top 2011 recruit Trey DePriest is ready to step in for linebacker Dont'a Hightower

    Dee Milliner, steps for DeQuan Menzie at corner back. Milliner has two years of experience.

    Will Lowery starts his senior year after backing up departing Mark Barron at Safety.

    On offense, Barrett Jones, an Outland Trophy winner and All American, takes over center from William Vlachos

    DeAndrew White and Kenny Bell, both experienced receivers are ready to take Darius Hanks place

    Harrison Jones a RS freshman is ready to take Brad Smelley's place at tight end.

    Kevin Norwood will be a junior, and Bradley Sylve, a redshirt freshman, will take Marquis Maze's place at WR.

    Lastly, Eddie Lacy will start his junior year, taking Trent Richardson's place, and be backed up by redshirt freshman Dee Hart, junior Jalston Fowler and freshman T.J. Yeldon

    You can see why these replacements aren't going to worry the astute fans who know football.

4. A Solid Defensive Line and Linebacker Corp Will Continue to Stuff the Run.

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    Jessee Williams will start, but at a new position—nose guard. Defensive end Damion Square is an experienced starter backed up up by some of the most intimidating freshmen to come along in a while and the other end will be former starter Quinton Dial.

    That's a nice defense line in anybody's 3-4 scheme.

    Linebackers will be Trey DePriest, Adrian Hubbard, Nico Johnson and C.J. Moseley. They will have very talented people like Tania Patrick and Xzavier Dickson with lots of experience backing them up. Behind them are several talented freshmen.

    This is the backbone of another nation-leading defense.

3. A Now Experienced A. J. McCarron

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    With a year of good experience and a championship game under his belt, the Tide should do well with A.J. McCarron.

    He's already ahead of the pace set by his predecessor, Greg McElroy. Now having seen almost all that the SEC and other top teams have to offer, McCarron will only get better.

    The Tide fans should expect some great things to come from this signal caller in 2012.

An Absolutely Great Group of Running Backs

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    If you're crying a river of losing Trent Richardson, dry your tears. Eddie Lacy has the ability to match the production of Trent Richardson, and with the addition of one of 2011's top running back recruits, now totally recovered from injury—Dee Hart—to go along with experienced pile mover Jalston Fowler, sophomore Blake Sims and a freshman who is sure to make a splash, T.J. Yeldon, Alabama will be just fine.

    In fact, they should be more than fine; they should be downright exciting, especially with reason No. 1 to be optimistic in place...

The Offensive Line Could Be One of the Best in a Long Time

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    Losing William Vlachos, a man who was the rock on the offensive line for three years would normally be a hole too big to fill, but filling it with an Outland Trophy winner and two time All American not only fills it, but may make it a lot tougher on opponents.

    That's what they get when Barrett Jones moves to center for his senior year.

    The guards are all former starters, senior to be Chance Warmack and junior-to-be Anthony Steen.

    Left tackle will be Cyrus Kouandjio after rehabbing his knee and right tackle will be sr. D.J. Fluker.

    All the above have all been starters except for Kouandjio and he was the number one left tackle prospect in the country coming out of high school. He got some good experience at this spot this past season before the injury.

    This line should be a defender mowing machine and allow Eddie Lacy and his supporting cast to run wild in 2012.

    Of course there is one more reason to be optimistic, Nick Saban will return as well.

    (Larry Burton is a syndicated writer whose work appears online and in print. If you'd like to keep up with all his articles, follow him on Twitter and sign up as a fan on his profile page.)