After winning three of the last four BCS National Championships, the expectations for Alabama in 2013 are clear: Anything less than another title will be a disappointment.
While the first round of the upcoming NFL draft will showcase several former Crimson Tide players, key performers from last year’s team will be back in Tuscaloosa.
Nick Saban’s defense always finds a way to turn in impressive performances, but the coach will rely on three of his returners to ensure that the offense puts up points.
Here are the expectations for Alabama’s three biggest offensive stars.
A.J. McCarron, Quarterback
Last season, McCarron continued to improve upon his work as a sophomore. He showed leadership and poise late in games and rarely made mistakes.
His signature moment came when he led a game-winning drive to beat LSU in Death Valley, and that will be a memory he will never forget.
Statistically, he was extremely impressive. He completed 67.2 percent of his throws while racking up 2,933 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
In 2013, fans will be expecting more of the same. He will once again have to avoid turning the ball over while making big plays late in games.
Expected 2013 Stats: 68.0 completion percentage, 3,300 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, 4 interceptions
T.J. Yeldon, Running Back
As a freshman, Yeldon provided the lightning, while Eddie Lacy contributed the thunder in Alabama’s backfield.
This role helped Yeldon record 1,108 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
But Yeldon is much more than a change-of-pace back, and at 6’2” and 216 pounds, he certainly has the build to carry a full load.
The Crimson Tide will likely use multiple backs in 2013, but Yeldon will be the focal point of the team’s running game. Due to this, his numbers should go up.
Expected 2013 Stats: 1,350 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns, 6.5 yards per carry average
Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver
Alabama has traditionally taken a conservative approach on offense and focused mainly on moving the ball on the ground. But with the amount of talent the team will have at wide receiver, there will be fireworks in 2013.
Cooper is the star of the receiver corps after a stellar freshman season. In 2012, he pulled in 59 catches for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Several offensive players had standout performances in the National Championship Game against Notre Dame (including Yeldon and McCarron), and Cooper was incredible with six catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
He is a rising star, and he will be expected to stay on that trajectory when the new season starts.
Expected 2013 Stats: 70 catches, 1,150 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns