Nick Saban has proven he knows how to produce winning college football programs and this years team will be no different. The Alabama Crimson Tide roll into this season as not only the defending national champs but a favorite on many preseason polls to do it all again this year. They are an extremely talented team that has many starters returning from last seasons winning unit.
A three year starter is a commodity at the quarterback spot in college football these days, especially one with the talent level of A.J. McCarron. He had a phenomenal season last year throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions. Most people hope he can just repeat a performance like that because improving upon it would be a tough task for anyone. The team lost Eddie Lacy because he now plays his football on Sunday but the running back spot is still strong with Yeldon. He split carries with Lacy last year and still got 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns. The running game is really the key to the success of the way Saban runs his offense and Yeldon will keep that engine going.
Saban likes the old-school approach of using the run to set up the pass. It's a philosophy that has stood the test of time. He likes to get big, athletic lineman and the key is being able to get them to block effectively at the second level. When guys like Kouandjio can get onto the opposing teams linebackers it opens up huge lanes for Yeldon. He has a great burst and power in the open field which complements the blocking style perfectly. Once that gets going and the defense adjusts to it the offense can mix in the play action to take advantage. It worked so well last season that McCarron used a play action on 43% of his touchdowns last year.
The defense ranked number 1 in scoring, rushing and overall, can't be more impressive than that. Will they rank No. 1 again, even though they're talented enough that will be hard to do. One thing you can count on is a top 5 unit. They took a hit on the line, they'll have to replace three regulars with new guys, but that doesn't suggest the new guys lack talent. One man who is returning, Stinson, led all defensive lineman last year with 8.5 tackles for losses. A focus this season will likely be placed on improving the pass rush. As good as they were last season there's always room for improvement, it's the biggest room in the house. The linebackers are strong have a lot of experience returning with Mosley and Hubbard. Even though the secondary may be a little thin at least they have proven playmakers in Clinton-Dix and Belue.
Is it really possible that Alabama could do something that hasn't been done in approximately 80 years, win three consecutive national titles? It is absolutely possible, but it will be awfully difficult. However if anyone can do it, it's them. They have a tremendous amount of talent on both sides of the ball and a coach who knows how to lead his team to victory. There is a reason so many experts and casual fans alike have Alabama picked to win it all again, it's because they're that good. Let's just hope everyone is right this year and the Crimson Tide can continue to rewrite the record books.