Alabama Football: Top Spring Practice Storylines to Watch

Ian BergCorrespondent IFebruary 11, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 07: T.J. Yeldon #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with teammate Kelly Johnson #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Alabama football team is facing a lot more transition than usual when it heads into spring practice in the next few months.

This program is known for its reloading of talent, but this spring there are a few positions that will be watched heavily as the Tide tries to replace vital pieces of the offense and defense from a year ago.

The backfield is an obvious concern as the Tide is loaded with a number of talented running backs in the incoming class, but it lacks experience on campus for spring ball. Alabama is also plugging a number of holes along the offensive line.

These are the three points to watch heading into spring football for Alabama.


Backfield Development

Alabama is bringing in the best running back recruiting class in the country this summer. But before the bulk of the class arrives, Derrick Henry will be the lone freshman in spring football as a running back.

Henry will battle alongside Kenyon Drake and T.J. Yeldon this spring for playing time.

The Tide already has a proven runner in Yeldon and he will undoubtedly be the starter this fall. The question is who will be his partner in the backfield, as Alabama has relied on a tandem approach over the past few seasons.

Drake has experience, but Henry is as talented as they come and he is a physical freak in the backfield at 6’3”, 240 pounds.

Watching this backfield develop into an attacking unit this spring will be a lot of fun for Tide fans.


Who Is the Offensive Line?

Three starters will be replaced along the Alabama offensive line this spring as D.J. Fluker, Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack departed the Tide program after the national title win.

There is a lot of depth along the offensive line, and Chad Lindsay, Austin Shepard and Ryan Kelly are expected to become the next crop of starters.

There is still a battle that will go on with Kellen Williams, Isaac Luatua and Arie Kouandijo pushing for time as well.

Alabama is loaded with talent, but finding the right mix up front is not all about talent. There is a chemistry factor that has to be found, and it may take the entire spring practice session to get this position group figured out.


Spread Schemes Continue to Expand

One of the newer developments for Alabama has been the expansion of the offensive playbook over the past few seasons. This team has found a lot of success out of pro-style sets, but it has also built a strong air attack and screen game out of the spread.

Alabama runs a multiple system, but the spread continues to become a more everyday part of the Tide offense.

The Tide has signed a lot of receiver talent over the past few seasons and has put together an elite group of pass-catchers. Expect the passing game to open up even more this year as A.J. McCarron shoots for a future in the NFL.

The Alabama passing game is the most underrated piece of this team, but after this season that should change.

If the Tide figures out answers to these three concerns this spring, it will push for a third straight national title in 2013.