Key Positions That Will Propel Alabama Football in 2013
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
At the University of Alabama, running backs have been the key to the Crimson Tide's success under Nick Saban. However, in the upcoming 2013-14 season, the strength of the team has shifted to other positions on both sides of the ball.
Alabama doesn't have to rely solely on the running game and its suffocating defense to win games anymore. Saban now has several different weapons at his disposal that give him a great chance of competing for another national championship in January.
Here are three key positions that will propel Alabama to another stellar season in 2013-14.
AJ McCarron loads up a pass against Notre Dame.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
AJ McCarron decided to return for his senior season, and Alabama fans rejoiced.
And why shouldn't they?
McCarron has been the starter for the Crimson Tide for two seasons, and Alabama has won two national championships. Things are obviously working out well for him in Tuscaloosa.
Last season, McCarron threw for 2,933 yards, 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He completed 67.2 percent of his throws and averaged over nine yards per toss.
With those number and the talent around him, he has transformed Alabama's offense into an aerial attack with a downhill running game. He runs the show now, and he attracts the attention from opposing defenses, which allows the ground game to succeed.
He has proven to be the competitive leader that a coach wants out of his starting quarterback, and there is no doubt that he will provide leadership during his senior season. With him, he brings back the consistency and experience that the Crimson Tide needs under center with a revamped offensive line.
If McCarron can put up the numbers he has shown he is capable of, with the stable of wide receivers he has, he will be a Heisman Trophy contender throughout the entirety of the season.
WR Amari Cooper scores an easy touchdown in the BCS National Championship game.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Injuries to DeAndrew White, Chris Black and Kenny Bell left Alabama's wide receiving corps battered and depleted last season, leaving the catching duties up to Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones.
However, the emergence of freshman Amari Cooper resurrected the passing game and took the Crimson Tide's offense to another level. He finished the year with 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.
This year, White, Black and Bell will be back in the fold, as will Norwood, Jones and Cooper, and they will be joined by a couple of freshmen that will deepen the receiver pool to eight players.
Robert Foster and Raheem Falkins provide McCarron with two big targets on the outside. Foster stands at 6'3", and Falkins is 6'4". They will have to fight the experienced players for time on the field, as it's unlikely either player will be redshirted.
The depth at receiver almost seems endless for Alabama, and the amount of talent stacked up at one position will only benefit McCarron and the Crimson Tide offense.
The passing game will thrive because of the endless supply of receivers.
C.J. Mosley picks off a pass against Michigan in the Tide's first game of the season.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Another senior’s decision to return for his final season at Alabama will have a huge impact on the Crimson Tide's success in the upcoming season.
C.J. Mosley will return to lead a defense and linebacker unit that is hungry for another championship.
He will be joined by veterans Trey DePriest, Tana Patrick and Xzavier Dickson, although Dickson has been working with the defensive line, according to the Crimson White.
There are also several younger players that will be fighting to see the field behind the more experienced guys—players like Reggie Ragland, Denzel Devall, Ryan Anderson and Dillon Lee.
All of these players are at least 6'2" and are effective in stopping the run and pass.
The linebacker corps only lost one player to graduation in Nico Johnson, but it also gains a phenomenal athlete in incoming freshman Reuben Foster. Foster, who was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 inside linebacker, will compete for playing time right away when he arrives to Tuscaloosa in the summer.
This group will be the heartbeat of the defense next season. The depth, experience and athleticism of this group will strike fear in opposing defensive coordinators' eyes when they are devising a game plan to move the ball against Alabama.