Alabama's success was hung on the back of a bruising run game last season. Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and occaisionally Roy UpChurch would run for chunks of yardage at a time, wearing on many opposing defenses.
The pass attack for the most part was secondary. This year, that trend looks to change. With a healthy core of WR's and a veteran, undefeated QB, the sky is the limit.
Julio Jones and Marquise Maze look to lead this talented squad of recievers. The recieving core includes Darius Hanks, Michael Bowman, Earl Alexander, Kevin Norwood, Kendall Kelly, Kenny Bell and Brandon Gibson. Each one of these young men are dynamite with the ball in their hands and threats downfield.
Tide fans should expect Julio Jones to garner a lot of media attention. Jones, who is coming off a seemingly down year after a superb freshman season, is finally healthy and poised for a breakout junior campaign.
Expect questions about his draft status to develop as the season goes on, but it shouldn't distract the team too much. In the offseason, Jones was reported to be lifting as much as 400 pounds, giving him the strength to fight off press coverage and answering questions about his sports hernia surgery from a year ago. The amazing fact that Jones was not at 100 percent and still hauled in 43 receptions including a 73-yarder against LSU make Tide opponents weak with fear.
Maze and Hanks combined for 48 receptions and almost 800 yards. While Jones was clutch when his number was called, the tandem of Hanks and Maze delivered big plays for the most part.
Maze is the speedy receiver who was the downfield threat and grabbed the bulk of the receptions. Greg McElroy tossed the taller Hanks the rock when Jones and Maze were tied up. After Hanks and Maze, it's literally a logjam of Bowman, Alexander, Norwood, Bell, Gibson and Kendall Kelly. Bowman and Alexander are the only two with legitimate game-time experience.
Gibson was the dark horse in the discussion, but a winning TD catch in the A-Day has inserted him right into contention. Kelly, who came in with the most fanfare, has tried his hand at safety. A rumor is out about Bowman doubling at TE after beefing up to a muscular 245 pounds.
We can't forget about the pack of incoming freshmen entering the fold. Speedsters Keiwone Malone and DeAndrew White are joined by Ronald Carswell and ATH Blake Sims.
The 5'11" 170 pound Malone committed in February of his junior year in high school and stuck to it.
He will need to add bulk to fight off press coverage, as he's the bigger vertical threat.
White is also built like Malone at 5'11" 170 pounds. He's a polished route runner and can cut on a dime without losing speed.
Carswell is a crafty route runner and downfield threat with hands to find the ball in traffic and a knack for getting extra yardage. Sims plays both sides of the ball, but is a huge threat with the ball in his hands. If anyone of these young lions crack the rotation they're a sure bet to start beside Jones.
Wait there's more. Vigor receivers Marvin Shinn (6'3" 180), Danny Woodson Jr (6'1" 200), Daryl Collins ( 5'11" 175) and now Louisiana speedster Bradley Sylve headline an even more talented 2011 class.
Sylve who runs a blazing 4.43 and boasts a 30 inch vertical is one of many celebrated steals for the Tide. Both Shinn and Sylve are slated to play in the Under Armour All- American Game.
Shinn and Sylve also are very fast vertical threats down field with 40 times of 4.43 and 4.45 show. If the Tide can keep them both on board, the best is yet to come.