It is hard for any team to consistently play at a high level and compete for championships year in and year out. The question becomes how does a team make that goal a reality? Well, it always helps when one has a competitive, fiery coach such as Nick Saban. His incredible drive is motivating and infectious to each and every one of his players.
Nick Saban brings an impressive 55-12 record since joining the University of Alabama football program in 2007. This record also includes two national championships in a five year span.
Along with Saban's impressive on field record, he also brings a competitive nature that is rare (even in a coach's world). So how does that impressive record and demeanor translate to creating an overall, successful football program? Nick Saban has built what some consider to be a dynasty since arriving at the Capstone in 2007 by being vigilant and dedicated to his art.
Now, after a successful season that included a 12-1 record, and a 21-0 shutout of the undefeated LSU Tigers in the BCS National Championship, the Crimson Tide are poised to make yet another strong run in the college football world.
The losses of players such as Dont'a Hightower, Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick and others hurt the team, but will not completely cripple the Crimson Tide.
The Alabama offense will feature a nice stable of running backs who compliment each other very well. This includes Eddie Lacy (also known as the infamous Circle Button), Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart and the highly recruited, true freshman, T.J. Yeldon.
With Eddie Lacy being sidelined for the duration of spring training, it allowed Saban and company to properly evaluate the other running backs which proved to be useful. Jalson Fowler continued to be the big bodied (6-1, 245) running back that can pound between the tackles and physically wear on defenses.
The true freshman, Yeldon, showed that he can be an immediate contributor and create big plays (hints why he was named MVP of Alabama's talent filled A-Day game in mid April). The loss of Trent Richardson will hurt, but with the stable of running backs that the Crimson Tide currently has, the loss might not be as big of an impact as some expect.
The Alabama offense will also include one of the top offensive lines in the country which includes reigning Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones. Combine that with a quarterback who took major strides in last year's national championship season, and you have the recipe for a highly successful offense.
The only question mark remains at a talented, but inexperienced wide receiver group. If guys such as Kenny Bell and DeAndrew White can emerge as leaders and producers, it would allow for the development of some of the younger receivers.
The biggest question surrounding the Tide's attempt at a 2012 repeat revolves around the Tide's defense that showed it was a dominate and rare force in the college football world.
The Tide's defense included four players that were taken in the top 35 picks of April's 2012 NFL Draft. Losing that kind of talent will affect any team, but Alabama has the talent to field another top 3 defense in 2012. Jesse Williams looks to slide from defensive end to nose tackle, to take over for the departed 4th round pick, Josh Chapman.
Chapman did a terrific job of demanding double teams and playing with a nastiness, but Williams will allow for the position to create more big plays.
Another problem relies on the linebacker core which loses both Dont'a Hightower, Jerrell Harris and Courtney Upshaw. The inside linebacker won't take as big of a hit with both Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley stepping up to man the two inside linebacker positions, but the Jack position (Saban's rush linebacker position) remains a big question mark.
Look for players such as Xavier Dickson, Adrian Hubbard and Ryan Anderson to fill the shoes left by the new Baltimore Raven, Courtney Upshaw.
The biggest question mark on Alabama's defense lies in the secondary which loses three out of four starters and three out of four of the top cornerbacks on the roster. The lone returning starter is the highly touted safety, Robert Lester as well as Dee Milliner who has some starts under his belt.
Joining Lester and Milliner will be a host of new faces that include JUCO corners Travell Dixon and Deion Belue, along with John Fulton, Vinnie Sunseri, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the highly recruited safety out of Louisiana, Landon Collins.
If the Tide can survive the early test against Michigan at Jerry World in Dallas, maybe it will be enough time for the secondary and the rest of the defense to gain the experience needed to compete in the highly competitive SEC.
There is no question that the 2012 Alabama football team will compete for an SEC championship and maybe a national championship in 2012. However, there are a lot of question marks. With the highly intelligent, competitive Nick Saban at the helm, look for those question marks to become strengths in the future.