Alabama football is coming off an electric season that charged the Tide all the way to a NCAA national title in 2011. Breaking down key aspects of this season leads you to believe there's no doubt in them returning to glory and playing for another championship in 2012.
Two-Headed Monster at RB
The departure of Trent Richardson leaves a void quite difficult to fill, but trust Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler will do it seamlessly.
Neither have any starts under their belts, but in reserve roles, both Lacy and Jalston averaged an unheard-of seven yards per carry backing up Richardson last year. Lacy had seven scores and Jalston countered by taking it to the house four times.
While Lacy checks in at 6'1" and 220 lbs. and Jalston at 6'1" and 242 lbs., the 'Bama backs will have no problem pushing through the pile and pounding SEC defenses—breaking them down, team by team as the season goes along.
Tyrann Mathieu's Departure
The Tide had a full offseason to prepare for the absence of Trent Richardson, as everyone was aware he was entering the draft and going on to the NFL when he announced as much in January.
SEC West rival and runner-up to Alabama in 2011, LSU has had the last week or so to prepare for the exit of Tyrann Mathieu, who was dismissed from the team in early August for repeated insubordination of the school's drug policy.
Replacing the Honey Badger, a Heisman award finalist a season ago—like Richardson—will be a much more daunting task. If he chose to come out, he was a sure top-round draft choice next season if his junior campaign was anything like his previous two, with his only flaw being his 5'9" height.
Finding another corner will not be impossible for LSU, but finding another Tyrann Mathieu will be. There could be some growing pains that make the transition for Jalen Collins, Jalen Mills or another DB not as seamless as Les Miles would like.
LSU will especially miss Mathieu in the return game, where he was so invaluable last season. On 27 punt returns in 2011, Mathieu took two back for scores and averaged 16 yards per return.
After Nick Saban's second title with Alabama, and third of his career, experts would be remiss not to credit him for the Tide's success. He has proven to be an excellent leader of men at the college level—specifically in the SEC, where the lights shine the brightest.
We've seen quiet stars blossom under Saban's guidance, including Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Javier Arenas among others.
In five years with the Crimson Tide, at a record of 55-12, Saban has solidified his spot on the list of great active coaches by not only putting winners on the field, but off the field as well.