Alabama surprised everyone last year by taking apart a Clemson team that many had as a National Championship contender.
From there, they just kept rolling.
The Crimson Tide finished the regular season undefeated and with the top rank in the nation. Unfortunately for Alabama, with the suspension of Andre Smith over some suspect dealings with a possible agent, the Tide went on to lose the SEC Championship game against Florida and the forgettable Sugar Bowl against Utah.
Alabama looks to the new season hoping to continue the success they had in last year's regular season. However, with the graduation of several seniors on offense and the early departure of Andre Smith on the offensive line, Alabama looks to have big shoes on offense, including replacing three starters on the offensive line.
Despite this, reports, and the performance on the spring game, have shown that the offense is more than willing to step up to the task of playing as well if not better than last year.
Quarterback has been the main focus on the offense in the offseason with the graduation of John Parker Wilson. The Crimson faithful do have high hopes coming into the season as junior Greg McElroy is said to be more accurate on the long ball than Wilson was last year and looks to be the real deal, which is more than enough for a team that should be relying on it's defense and running game to make it through the games.
The running game should be a strong weapon this season, as it returns Mark Ingram and brings one of the top freshman running backs in the nation in Trent Richardson.
Richardson has not played in college, so there is some question to how he will do in college, but Mark Ingram did very well in a back-up role, where he was often brought in on short-yardage situations.
Much of the success of the running game will depend on the success of the reworked offensive line. Incoming freshman D.J. Fluker will look to replace Andre Smith on the line if he can beat out incoming junior college transfer James Carpenter. Common sense says that the line will have trouble adjusting but from what I have heard coming out is that they look to be coming out strong.
The success of the running game will be able to open the field for the wide receivers, namely Julio Jones and Marquis Maze. If you have been following college football in the last year then you already know who Julio Jones is and his impressive talent. What you might not have heard about is the impressive rise of Maze, someone who is poised to have a breakout season in 2009. Maze opened up a few eyes in the Alabama spring game and has only continued to build upon that game. Those two along with several four star wide receivers coming in look to make this position a real strength this upcoming season, which it hasn't really been in a long time.
With the graduation of Nick Walker and Travis McCall, Alabama looks to reload at Tight End with Brad Smelly and Colin Peek. There may be some drop off from last year but these guys should be ready to step up and play for the Tide.
Overall, Alabama has a few concerns going into the season on offense, but they should be put to rest fairly quickly, even against a very tough Virginia Tech defensive unit. With the new line and a promising young quarterback as the real questions on offense, the Tide look to field a very tough unit going into next season. Look for them to remain strong all throughout the year.