2009 Alabama Football Outlook: Will Mental Strength Match Physical Talent?

Joey JacksonContributor IMay 13, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks to his defense against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There's only one logical question concerning Alabama's potential for the upcoming football season: Starting with Virginia Tech, will Nick Saban have them mentally prepared, week after week, to come out on top? Because if you only go by depth and overall talent, the Tide will win every regular season game. 

That opener against Va. Tech will be a huge indicator of how far Alabama will be able to go in the 2009 season. I'm guessing the Tide will be favored by six-and-a-half or seven points come game time, and for good reason, but the mental conditioning and preparedness will be the biggest factor, not the talent level.

There is no doubt Tech is good enough to beat Alabama. The key will be whether the Tide comes playing to win or playing not to lose.

I don't agree with the perception that the SEC West will be a tug of war between Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss either. The 2009 recruiting class LSU landed brings an influx of offensive skill to their roster, but they'll be way too young to challenge Bama's experienced defense, especially in Tuscaloosa.

Houston Nutt also scored on the recruiting front with some potential immediate impact-type players, but there is only one player on that roster who can singlehandedly change the game for the Rebels. He also happens to occupy the most important individual position on the field, but, again, team talent is the deciding factor.

There is currently one team in the country with better team talent than Alabama. You'll have to humor me to a certain extent, because the cards would have to hit in an exact, specific way, but Bama just might face them twice. Granted, that would mean the SEC championship game and a rematch in the national championship, but hey, anything is possible in college football today.

My prediction is that Alabama will go undefeated in the regular season, again, and face Florida, again, in Atlanta. There's no questioning the fact that the Tide can beat Florida. It all just comes down to the players being mentally prepared to do it.