Alabama Football: 5 Reasons Crimson Tide Will Go Undefeated in 2011
The Alabama Crimson Tide came into the 2011 season with exceptionally lofty ambitions following the “disappointment” of last year’s 10-win season and failure to repeat as national champs despite having the talent to do so.
Now standing at 6-0, the hype is no longer hype and the race for Alabama’s second title in three years has begun.
Maybe such was fate, to succeed in the face of tragedy or rather to be motivated by it.
Following the events that transpired this summer when tornadoes destroyed lives and homes of many Tuscaloosa natives, the success of the Crimson Tide has become more critical than ever as they must carry the hopes of their fans and remember the life of a teammate—Aaron Douglas—that they have lost.
Nick Saban Has Done It Before
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Just two seasons ago, the Nick Saban-led Alabama Crimson Tide ran the table to claim the program’s 13th national title following their 37-21 victory over the Texas Longhorns in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.
That wasn’t the first time Saban lifted the national championship trophy as the head coach also led LSU to the most important title game of them all in 2003 after going 13-1 that season.
Those two BCS victories make him just the second coach in college football history to win a national championship with two different FBS schools.
The man is a proven winner—one of the most successful coaches out there—boasting a 140-53-1 record (72.16 win pct.) over the course of his entire career and is 49-11 (81.67 win pct.) since joining Alabama.
A great motivator, an incredible recruiter of talent, a teacher and student of the game, Saban’s greatest obstacle this season just so happens to be the program he himself built, but he is more than up for the task.
Defense Wins Games
I believe the old adage goes, “the best defense is a great offense,” which on the field of battle makes considerable sense, but I tend to believe the opposite in terms of the gridiron.
The best offense is a great defense, and I’ll tell you why.
The more often a team is able to strike fear into its opponents by way of physical threat, the greater amount of psychological damage it is certain to inflict and thus the more likely it is to win.
Absolutely nothing takes the air right out of an opponent like turning a turnover into points because unlike a precise offensive strike for which one can more likely expect, a turnover that leads to a score negatively impacts the morale of both sides of the ball.
Alabama are allowing a paltry seven points per game six games into the season, which includes three victories over ranked teams (Penn State, Arkansas, Florida) and two shutouts (North Texas, Vanderbilt) thus far.
What is even more incredible is the lack of sacks and turnovers forced by this Alabama team. which, contradictory to popular belief, is an overwhelming positive. While it goes without saying that turnovers are ultimately game-changing, they are not guaranteed to happen every Saturday.
Alabama’s top ranking in spite of its painful lack of takeaways and sacks is a testament to the team's ability to systematically shutdown its opponents and forcing them to punt the ball.
It’s inevitable that the big plays will come, but the fact that Saban’s men don’t depend on them is truly a scary thought to comprehend.
The Schedule Is Favorable
Outside of the clash with division rivals LSU come Oct. 22, Alabama really don't have a strong or even fair opponent to be seen looking ahead as at this point only Auburn—which is currently 24th in the nation—remains ranked.
That even said, it appears very likely that the defending national champion's ranking will fade long before its scheduled bout following what I predict to be a series of at least two consecutive losses beginning with Florida and LSU in the coming weeks.
The Auburn Tigers have been fortunate up to this point, but allowing more points than forced is never an indication of a strong team.
Fortune and talent are once again on the side of the Tide, so just as the case with the season before the only real obstacle is themselves.
The Tide Will Roll on LSU
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Let’s be honest: Les Miles is just cranking the machine that Saban built, reaping the benefits of a series of events and successes set in motion by a superior coach.
That’s not to say that Miles is a bad coach by any stretch of the imagination, but Saban is clearly better in every sense—aside from maybe the concept of loyalty, but that subject has nothing to do with game day.
Looking beyond the overwhelmingly obvious defensive advantage owned by Alabama, the crowd noise generated by those screaming Tuscaloosa fans is guaranteed to cause a horde of communication issues for the visiting LSU Tigers.
To be frank, communication issues often lead to three things for the team that have them: penalties, turnovers and losses.
Without a substantially better offense—LSU is currently 20th, Alabama 22nd—to counteract a defense that has thus far allowed no more than a touchdown per game, LSU has little to no hope of pulling off a visiting win.
The Tide’s offensive key to the game lies in Trent Richardson, who may get as many as two to three touchdowns himself in what will be Alabama’s most important and difficult matchup of the regular season.
Trent Richardson Is a Beast
Richardson’s talent and physical attributes sound more like fiction than reality, but to not believe hype will only either land you square on your back or flat broke and completely embarrassed.
He’s bigger, stronger and faster than the departed Mark Ingram, who was selected with the No. 28 pick of the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints this past April.
Halfway through the regular season, Richardson stands at fifth in the nation in total rushing yards (729), third in average yards per attempt for those with at least 100 carries (6.3) and is tied for third in rushing touchdowns (11).
Possessing the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and even return kicks—he broke a 91-yard return for a touchdown last season— when called upon, the junior represents a versatile threat.
His explosive running style allows him to run through, around or right by any defender on any given play, driving comparisons to incredible backs such as Adrian Peterson and Earl Campbell.
Trent Richardson is arguably the best back in college football right now, a legitimate NFL star in the making.