Wednesday, August 25, 2010
SEC 2010-Alabama Crimson Tide
2009 Record: 14-0 (8-0)
Head Coach: Nick Saban (4th season, 33-8...124-50-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jim McElwain (3rd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Kirby Smart (4th season)
2009 Bowl Game: BCS Championship, defeated Texas 37-21
Offense: The best thing that Nick Saban could have ever done was to hire Jim McElwain as OC at Alabama. The Tide had an explosive offense in 2009, which is something that they have not been known for in past seasons. Alabama had their first ever Heisman winner in RB Mark Ingram, who returns after rushing for 1658 yards and 17 scores in 2009, and he is back for his junior year. The better news is that there is still major depth behind Ingram with Trent Richardson, who is easily capable of posting a rushing yard number between 800 and 100 of his own yards this season. Greg McElroy turned out to be one of the best QBs Bama has had in years. He passed for 2508 yards and 17 scores, but more importantly, he didn't lose a game. All 3 starting WRs return in Juli Jones, Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks. 3 starters return on the line, and RG Barrett Jones is the anchor of the unit.
Defense: The Tide was the 2nd best defense in the nation. That's going to be a very difficlut number to attain in 2010, as 9 starters are gone. LB Dont'a Hightower is back at LB , and he is as good as they get, but there will be huge pressure on him to be as great as he can be to make up for the inexperience around him. He also has to stay on the field, as he was only healthy for 4 games in 2009. Josh Chapman and Luther Davis will be the new starters at tackle, and both have played a bunch coming off of the bench. Marcell Dareus was a break out star at DE in the championship game against Texas, and Courtney Upshaw played every week last year. SS Mark Barron returns after leading the SEC with 7 picks last season, but he will be playing in a rather thin secondary. Freshman DeMarcus Milliner may get a ton of playing time at either CB or Safety.
Special Teams: There will be two new kickers, and both look to be freshmen in PK Cade Foster and P Jay Williams. Both players were early enrollees last spring.
Wins: 9/4 San Jose State, 9/18 @ Duke, 10/9 @ South Carolina, 10/16 Ole Miss, 10/23 @ Tennessee, 11/13 @ LSU, 11/13 Mississippi State, 11/20 Georgia State
Toss Up Games: 9/11 Penn State, 9/25 @ Arkansas, 10/2 Florida, 11/26 Auburn
The 4 toss games will be difficult challenges for a developing defense. The wins all have the potential to be easy coasting games for the Tide.
Outlook: I am not sold on a return to the national title for Bama based on the lack of returnees on defense. You cannot lose that much talent and not take a hit for it, no matter how good Saban is. The offense should be high powered, but it would be nice to see McElroy pass for 20 TDs or more, and he will have that chance. Expect Ingram to be as good or better than he was last season.