What to watch on offense
Since taking over the Crimson Tide in 2007, the running game has been hallmark of Alabama’s offense under Nick Saban. While Saban and Co. have spoken publicly about opening up the offense and throwing the ball more, the running game still figures to play the leading role for the Tide offensively. At its core, Alabama is power run offense.
Alabama returns 4 of 5 starters on the offensive line, including the Outland Trophy Winner, and is widely considered the best offensive line in the country. The lone new new face is sophomore Cyrus Kouandjio who is slated to start at LT for the Tide.
Alabama has to replace its starting RB after losing Trent Richardson to the NFL. Junior Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 694yds a year ago, is expected to replace Richardson. Lacey will not be the only back to receiving carries as Alabama plans to use a variety of backs.
Jr. QB AJ McCarron returns and has received a lot of praise from Saban and new OC Doug Nussmeier. The Tide hope to see McCarron build on the stellar performance he had in the National Championship game. Alabama is still searching for a dynamic playmaker at the WR position, something they have been without since Julio Jones.
Best Offensive Player
DJ Fluker: Barrett Jones receives all of the accolades but its DJ Fluker who NFL scouts are drooling over.
Off Coor-Doug Nussmeier-1st Year
Def Coor-Kirby Smart-6th Year
12-1 (National Champions)
RB Trent Richardson
WR Marquis Maze
OLB Dont’a Hightower
OLB Courtney Upshaw
CB Dre Kirkpatrick
SS Mark Barron
CB Travell Dixon
QB AJ McCarron Jr.
OC Barrett Jones
OT DJ Fluker
DT Jesse Williams
DE Damion Square
LB Nico Johnson
SS Robert Lester
What to watch on defense
Nick Saban is a defensive coach by trade and expects nothing less than perfection from his defensive unit. Alabama was the first major college football programs to successfully implement the 3-4 as a base defense. Saban’s defenses are built to stop the run and pressure the QB, something the Tide has been extremely successful in doing. Alabama has finished in the top 10 in rush defense each of the past 4 seasons.
Alabama lost more than half of its starting defensive unit from a year ago. The Tide will be breaking in 6 new starters including 3 true sophomores. Many of Alabama’s new starters have playing experience because of how often the Crimson Tide like to substitute players. Even so, there are sure to be growing pains as the young Tide defenders get their sea legs.
The strength of the Crimson Tide always rests in the front 7 and this year is no different. Nose Tackle Jesse Williams anchors one of the biggest defensive fronts in college football. 6’6 248lbs newcomer Adrian Hubbard is expected to take over the crucial “jack” LB position previously manned by Courtney Upshaw.
The biggest defensive loss for the Tide occurred in the secondary where 2 All-Americans, and a 1st round draft choice depart. Senior Robert Lester is the lone holdover and moves to the SS position this season. The most experienced CB is Jr. Dee Milliner who saw extensive playing time in the nickel package for the Tide last season.
Michigan Rush Def vs. Alabama Rush Off
Alabama has the best offense line in the country and a stable of RBs. Michigan breaks in 3 new starters on the defensive line.
Michigan Pass Def vs. Alabama Pass Off
All 4 starters return for Michigan including seniors J.T. Floyd and Jordan Kovacs. Alabama continues to search for big plays out of its passing game.
Michigan Rush Off vs. Alabama Rush Def
Michigan strength offensively is its running game. Michigan returns 4 players with starting experience on the offensive line in addition to Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint*
Alabama’s strength on defense is its rush defense and even with heavy losses, the Tide return a ton of talent in the front 7. Alabama’s ability to load the box with more defenders than blockers may negate any advantage Michigan may have.
Michigan Pass Off vs. Alabama Pass Def
Michigan’s struggles in the passing game are no secret. Accuracy problems are pounded by the lack of proven, dynamic pass catches. Even though Alabama’s secondary is full of youth, there is loads of
talent. Alabama’s ability to get after the passer also covers up a lot of warts.