Alabama Football 2013: What Makes Fans Uneasy About the Upcoming Season
It has been a great ride these last few years for Alabama fans. Three of the last four BCS titles have given Tide fans everywhere a bit of swagger, and the program is watched closely by its competitors in the hope that they can figure out how to be a little more like the team from Tuscaloosa.
What is more, with the talent that is returning, the positive results on the recruiting trail and the leadership of the best coach in college football today, there is also a growing confidence that happy days are here not only right now, but for as long as one can imagine.
Looking ahead to 2013, Alabama fans expect to find their team at the top of most polls to start the season and another date with destiny that includes trouncing Auburn, extracting revenge on Johnny Football and the addition of another crystal football to the growing collection the University has won.
Is there anything that can stop the "process" from continuing as it has the last couple of seasons?
If you watch and listen closely there might be some issues that could cause the 2014 campaign to look more like the 2010 season than the one hoped for.
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McCarron has a track record of playing at his best when the stage is the biggest. He is confident in his abilities—with good reason—and if all goes as expected in the coming season, he may just find his name receiving high consideration for a Heisman.
Then there is the other stuff. In the last year, the lights have grown brighter around McCarron, and the big question is how he will handle his ever-growing fame.
How many college QBs have driven the pace car at Talladega? How will he manage his relationship with the now-famous Katherine Webb? What do we make of his coming beach vacation with his friend from Texas A&M?
It seems that the 'Bama QB is embracing life, and that is good. Will he also fully embrace football in 2013?
McCarron has proven he can get the job done. Can he still be the man while standing in an ever-expanding circle of bright lights?
Who Will Be the 'Other Guy' This Fall?
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Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. These are four really good running backs, and the reality is the one who played with Eddie Lacy last year may just be the best of the group.
Yeldon is a proven stud and has a running style that combines the best elements of all three predecessors. His 1,108 yards last year serve as evidence of that.
What Alabama fans are anxious to learn is who the "other guy" will be this fall.
As Tide fans have learned over the last few years, Nick Saban's offense works best when two runners can be unleashed on opposing defenses.
There are plenty of potential candidates. Kenyan Drake averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year but managed to be on Saban's bad side at times. Derrick Henry was looking strong this spring before breaking a bone in his leg, and Altee Tenpenny will bring his talents to campus this fall.
The problem today is that you just don't know who that second runner will be and what impact he will have. This should give Bama fans a moment to pause...just in case it takes time for one of them to step to the front of the line.
Who Are These Guys?
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Last year's offensive line had more than 160 combined starts. That comes to more than 10,000 football plays. Now, three of the keys to Alabama's offensive game have had their names called by NFL teams. Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones are gone.
In their places will be Arie Kouandjio, Ryan Kelly and Austin Shepherd. Maybe. That is what we think right now, but it is too early to call this settled.
The questions are obvious. How will this group do when it comes to opening lanes for T.J. Yeldon? Will this offensive line be able to keep AJ McCarron upright? Can they sustain drives during clutch time to keep the Tide defense rested and ready?
There will be no third straight title if this group does not bring it together in 2013.
Season of Discontent
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Remember the Alabama game with South Carolina in 2010?
It just seemed that maybe some of the Tide players were happy with the way things were. There had been the national title the season before, and it seems some players and many fans believed teams would just lay down when facing the Crimson Tide.
South Carolina did not. Neither did LSU. Nor Auburn.
For 2013 to be a success, Nick Saban has got to convince these players that they have not even won a game yet...much less a national title.
AJ McCarron and C.J. Mosley have to provide the best kind of leadership. So far, they have both been saying all the right hings. Is the rest of the team buying in?
For 2013 to be memorable for all the right reasons, there cannot be an air of contentment or entitlement during the offseason or when the games start.
Can C.J. Be a Run-Stopper?
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C.J. Mosley is a proven player when it comes to pass defense. This year, he is going to be asked to step up and play an even bigger role on defense in stopping the run.
Mosley is fast, strong and has great football instincts. He has made dynamic and memorable plays in coverage.
For 2013 to be a rousing success, he is going to have to show he is tough enough to be a player in run defense as well.
Watching It All
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Just a few things. That is all. There is not just a ton for Alabama fans to be losing sleep over, but in the world of college football, the Tide can turn quickly if any of the concerns noted on the prior slides raise their heads when the 2013 season takes off.
The good news is that as long as Saban is watching over the Alabama program, it won't be a lack of focus from the top that leads 'Bama into a disappointing season.
Hopefully the players are all still into the "process."