Alabama Football: Biggest Red Flags for the Crimson Tide

Jonathan McDanalContributor IIIJune 3, 2012

Alabama Football: Biggest Red Flags for the Crimson Tide

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    Alabama is preparing to launch its assault on an unprecedented back-to-back BCS national championship for the second time in three years.

    Where the 2010 team fell short, the 2012 team does not need to fall.

    However, there are a few stumbling blocks between this team and the 15th 'Bama national championship. Here are the biggest ones, in no particular order.

Hype

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    The 2012 Tide is not quite as hyped as the 2010 team was, but it's close. Whereas the 2010 Tide entered the favorite to win the national championship, the 2012 Tide enters behind USC and LSU.

    The preseason ranking will have 'Bama fighting for its life starting with Michigan, and there should be little-to-no complacency in the group.

    However, posting a win against Arkansas in Week 3 could propel the Tide to the top of the rankings. That could be all the push the younger Tiders need to lose a game.

    One lost game could be all it takes to knock themselves out of contention in 2012, especially after what happened in 2011.

Fear

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    Saban is not a man to show fear, especially on the field. His players aren't trained to acknowledge fear, as that would give them vulnerability.

    The fact of the matter is that everyone (both on the field and in the stands) knows that McCarron is all the Tide has under center.

    Yes, it's great to imagine a world where a Blake Sims or Phillip Ely could just inherit the QB spot and take the Tide to championship victory in their first year.

    It's even better to imagine a world where the starting QB doesn't get injured at all. (With the senior offensive line, that scenario is actually quite likely.)

    The fact is that everyone knows that 'Bama's weakness is depth at QB. That doesn't mean that the Tide can't go all the way in 2012; it's just a red flag waving at the coaches right now.

    The fear of losing McCarron could be a distraction to the rest of the team.

Lost Players

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    Nobody is overlooking the fact that there are a ton of guys gone from the 2011 team.

    Not only have the Tide lost players to graduation and the NFL draft, eight of those players were good enough to get drafted. (Three of the first-round picks were off the illustrious defense.)

    Now, there are plenty of players to replace the ones that are gone, and the replacements should do a fine job. However, now that the replacements are the starters, it does leave a few holes in the depth chart.

    Again, this is not a season-killing conundrum, but it does raise some eyebrows. If the new kids can't get a grip on Saban's scheme, the season could be lost before it even starts.

    The good news it that the Tide has a schedule that gets tougher as the year progresses. There is a steep learning curve, but at least they don't open against LSU.

Attitude

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    This point shows up frequently when evaluating the 2012 edition of the Crimson Tide. It should, of course, since 2010 is so fresh on the minds of fans.

    What isn't mentioned is the red flag that crops up in many cases, such as this article from uwire.com.

    It's absolutely fine that the 2012 Capstone Kids are striving to avoid complacency. It's all good that they want to avoid another 2010 debacle.

    What's not all good is that it seems they are simply avoiding it like it's something on a checklist at this point. (Granted, it kind of is...at least until the season starts.)

    The kids keep tossing around words like leadership and complacency. They want to avoid another 2010, and they know all the buzzwords surrounding the potential letdown.

    The elephant in the room here is that nobody is talking about how badly they want their first, second, third or 15th championship. (Depending on how long they've been there or what perspective they choose to have.)

    It's not necessarily scary to me, but it's definitely a red flag. If you're focused on the goal, it's much easier to achieve. If you're focused on the past or just the path to the goal, it's easy to stumble.

    Ask the seniors, they were there in 2009 and 2010.