Alabama Football: T. J. Yeldon and Biggest X-Factors on Crimson Tide Offense

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 3:  Wide receiver DeAndrew White #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes up field after a catch during the first quarter of the Kent State Golden Flashes game on September 3, 2011 at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Alabama defeated Kent State 48-7.  (Photo by Greg McWilliams/Getty Images)
Greg McWilliams/Getty Images

Alabama's success this season will come down to a handful of players, most of whom play on the offensive side of the ball.

The Crimson Tide will try to defeat all comers on their road back to the BCS championship, but it won't come as easily this year. Not only must they replace four key players on defense, but also their offense will miss Trent Richardson's explosive running ability.

If Alabama is going to score points this year, it's going to come down to three players. I'll warn you ahead of time: You won't find A.J. McCarron on this list because his responsibility is too obvious.

Let's dig a little deeper to find Bama's X-factors on offense.

T.J. Yeldon

Yeldon is a 210-pound specimen at running back, and he's only a freshman. He will serve as Eddie Lacy's primary backup this year, but don't be surprised if his role increases as the season rolls along.

Watch him in the Tide's spring game, if you haven't already.

Not only is his impressive size obvious as soon as he gets the ball, but his explosive first step allows him to out-maneuver defenders on the second and third levels of the defense. Putting his hands on display makes him an even scarier prospect to slow down.

Take into account that it's Bama's first-team defense on the receiving end, and it's safe to say Yeldon will be something special.

Lacy will be the No. 1 back entering the season, but Alabama likes to rotate multiple players in the backfield. Richardson earned carries as Mark Ingram's backup, and Lacy did the same for Richardson.

Expect Yeldon to follow that trend. In terms of raw talent, he could be the best of the bunch.

His rare blend of size and speed will have NFL scouts drooling by the time his college tenure comes to a close.

DeAndrew White

White is a perfect complement to Bama's two tight end, blue-collar approach on offense. The ball-carriers will get most of the attention, but White's quickness will turn heads more than once.

Check him out here.

White breaks out of his cuts well, and he's only a sophomore. He still needs to improve his consistency, but he's Bama's best vertical threat.

Adding a home run threat to this offense will make them very dangerous. McCarron will have plenty of time behind one of the nation's best offensive lines, and White must find a way to get open down the field.

Stretching the field vertically will give Lacy, Yeldon and Co. more room to work. They do enough damage in small spaces. It's scary to think what they'll do if White is able to keep opposing defenses honest.

White isn't just fast; he's agile. Look for him to make a few highlight reels before the year is over. He caught two touchdown passes last year, but that number will increase this season.

Cyrus Kouandjio

Kouandijo is the only question mark on Alabama's stellar offensive line, and it's a stretch to even put him in that category. Perhaps "unknown" is a better word to describe this 6'6'' behemoth.

Not only is Kouandijo the most inexperienced player on the Tide's offensive line, but he also plays the most important position. It's safe to assume that D.J. Fluker can hold down the fort at right tackle, but can Kouandijo protect McCarron's blind side?

We will have to see. It's a very important question for a team that will face a plethora of fast-twitch pass-rushers in the ultra-athletic SEC.

Kouandijo entered Tuscaloosa as one of the nation's best high school linemen. Now, this is the big time. He has one year of experience under his belt, and a lot will be expected of him this year.

On a line featuring three first-round draft picks, Kouandijo is the biggest mystery. There's no denying his incredible talent, but he must take the next step in his development.

If he plays well, there's no telling how much time McCarron and the Bama backs will have to operate.

That's a scary proposition for anyone standing in their way this season.


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