Obviously, today's question isn't "Can 'Bama 3-peat?" (They obviously can) The "Will ‘Bama 3-peat" post is best suited for a gumpier or perhaps a rainier, my gawd when is football coming back, dog day of summer....day
The hypothetical above is - Will the '13 'Bama defense be sub-par? . Honestly, no one can answer that question today (but dagumit we will try) and only time will tell if there will be major struggles while trying to replace the team's best CB, NT, DT, a co-starter at LB and a senior Safety. edit. Just to be clear I am not saying they WILL be sub-par. Just merely asking the question.
Note to anyone thinking the worst: The positives are that Saban is still our coach and there certainly isn't a dearth of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Looking back, it could be said (and some did say) that last year's defense was sub-par, especially when comparing it to past Saban/Bama National Title winning teams (and even when compared to the '92 squad). Many laugh at this insinuation given the fact the '12 defense ranked at or near to top of every defensive statistical chart. But still the thought remains.
Moving forward to 2013, I don't want to be that fan because it was only one scrimmage but our first glimpse at the new unit was sketchy at best. Looking at the stats after Saturday's scrimmage, especially the receiving yards, it seems as if the offense had a career day. It may not be time to bring out the swinging cactus yet but there is nothing wrong with being a little worried. The team has concerns at CB and this is well documented. Again, we won't know the answer to this question till September.
However, another layer to the question arises when you start to think about how Alabama has won each of its 15 National Titles. Forget the upcoming season for a minute and ask yourself, "Can ANY 'Bama team win a National Title with a sub-par defense?" Better yet, if you were to ask any knowledgeable fan, "Has any previous 'Bama team won a title with a sub-par defense?" and the answer you'd probably get would be, "No".
And they'd be right (at least IMO)
The defense certainly led the way in our last four National Title games. In the '12 BCS title game the offense put up 42 points and dominated from the first snap but it was the defense that shutout Notre Dame and LSU for nearly 7 full quarters. It was also the defense that shut down Miami, took Colt McCoy out of the game and going a bit further back, kept Penn St out of the end zone to secure the '78 National Title.
Trying to imagine Alabama winning with a high powered offense and a defense that is just good enough doesn't seem right. And in fact, I hate the idea. Yes, winning is winning but 'Bama is 'Bama when it is led by a great defense. Fans love coaches like The Bear and Saban cause they win but we also love them because they are a paragon of Alabama football.
So, can 'Bama 3-peat with a sub-par defense and is this the year the theory is put to the test?