Nick Saban has now etched his name into the Alabama football record books. After a 12-0 start last season, his team lost momentum, falling in the SEC Title game and the Sugar Bowl to Utah.
The Crimson Tide also lost several key players, who were key cogs in the return of Alabama football to the national scene.
Saban’s defense will have a slight change—Rashad Johnson will no longer be a safety net for the Tide. In his place sophomore Robby Green stepped up in spring practice.
Strong safety Justin Woodall will lead the veteran group as he is a great enforcer in the run game. Cornerbacks Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson look to pressure opposing teams into mistakes.
With the mastermind of Nick Saban leading the way, his 3-4 scheme will wreak havoc throughout the SEC. Saban returns all four of his linebackers from a year ago.
Cory Reamer and Brandon Fanney look to lead the rush from their outside backer spots. The two seniors are supported by All SEC Rolando McClain and Dont’a Hightower.
McClain is the pet project for Saban. Hightower will get a look at defensive end in passing situations, as well as the outside rush of Fanney and reamer.
The defensive line returns one of the best prospects in the SEC in nose guard, Terrence Cody. Cody is a massive guy who perfectly fits the middle man in the 3-4 defense. He will be joined by ends Brandon Deaderick and Lorenzo Washington.
Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will play tricks with offensive coordinators this year. The 3-4 scheme will keep them guessing where the pressure will come from. Look for the defense to carry the Tide as far as they can go.
The Tide’s offense lost a lot after their 12-2 year, and the bright spot returns in 6' 4" receiver, Julio Jones. Jones caught 58 passes for 924 yards. Mike McCoy, Marquis Maze, and Darius Hanks look to contribute to the passing game and the first year starter at quarterback.
Saban will start a new quarterback for the first time during his tenure in Tuscaloosa. Junior Greg McElroy was impressive during the spring. McElroy is the perfect QB in Saban’s mind. He does not make mistakes and keeps the offense in the road.
He is being pushed by sophomore Thomas Darrah. Also look for Star Jackson sometime in the future for Saban. Jackson ran the spread in high school and it will take some time for him to adjust to the pro style offense for the Tide.
Mark Ingram looks to regain the form he had as a freshman. He rushed for 12 touchdowns then, and if he gains that number again, looks to be the most productive back.
The offensive line that paves the way for Ingram is a mixture of new faces and returning veterans. Guard Mike Johnson and tackle Drew Davis look to lead this group to better results than the last time they took the field against Utah. Johnson is a multi-purpose lineman, who filled in for Andre Smith last season.
The Tide’s season will play itself out in Week One. The defending SEC West Champs will face Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome. That will set the tone for both teams and will shake up the top 10.
Bryant-Denny Stadium hosts Florida International, North Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Chattanooga. The Tide must travel to Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and end the year playing the Iron Bowl on The Plains, in Auburn.
The Tide have huge hopes, but there are too many areas of concern. The leading passing and rusher are gone. Without a proven quarterback I don’t see the Tide winning the SEC West. Tide go 8-4.