No team is without fault. Even as loaded as this Alabama team seems to be, there are still holes and weaknesses. The thing is, weaknesses at Alabama are more like strengths for other programs. That's not homerism either, just brutal honesty.
'Bama has ranked in the top 3 in recruiting every year since 2008, and currently holds the #1 class for 2014. Oh, and you know how we have like 8 quarterbacks currently on campus? Saban just hauled in the #1 rated QB for 2015. There literally isn't a position on the field that could be considered a glaring weakness.
So, where does that leave the 2013 Alabama Crimson Tide? Are they unstoppable? Of course not. Can anyone take down this juggernaut of Crimson muscle? Yep and all Saban and his coaching staff must do is look to the past for a reminder how that may just happen.
To this day, the 2010 team may be the most talented group of players we'll ever see at the Capstone. Barron, Ingram, Richardson, Dareus, Hightower,
Cody, Julio, GMac, Kirkpatrick, Milliner, Fluker, Upshaw, Jones, and Warmack were all on that team. It was the who's who of 1st and 2nd round NFL draft picks yet ended up losing three games. Injuries, scheduling, focus problems and facing two teams who caught lightning in a bottle derailed that team's hope of a National Title.
So, what could get in the way of the 2013 Alabama Crimson Tide from making football history?
#1: The Offensive Line
Many may laugh at the notion that an Alabama offensive line may be a weakness but replacing three starters from a line that is widely considered the best ever at 'Bama won't come without a few hiccups. Add to that the Wide Receiver and Running Back depth, having a 3rd year starter at QB, weapons at Tight End and the success or failure of the 2013 offense rests squarely on the big elephants' shoulders.
Saban seems pleased with how the offensive line looks so far, but all that can end in the blink of an eye. We have depth at OL and our staff likes to prepare our backups to play every position but one injury can end it all.
#2: Tight End
With the news of Malcome Faciane entering Saban's dog house and LaMichael Fanning moving over from defensive line, depth at Tight End, especially the Y-Back, just became a real concern. At first, Fanning's size of 6-7 298 left me scratching my head. I know the Y-Back is typically a blocking TE but 298? Then I saw a picture of Fanning at practice over the weekend...Yeah, he ain't 298 anymore. Reports are mixed on the 'five day experiment' but you have to wonder given his new, slimmer look if things don't work out for Fanning at TE can he still contribute at defensive line? Is this boom or bust for Fanning?
Vogler and Howard will be your typical pass catching Tight Ends moving forward but if Faciane doesn't return that leaves Fanning at Y-Back and....? That's not exactly optimal depth for such an important position for our offense.
#3: Field Goal Kicker
You know things are going well when your get to number three on your list of only FIVE question marks and kicker comes up. But ask any Alabama fan how important field goal kickers are and flashbacks of LSU 2011 will appear.
I think Glen summed up our place kicking issues pretty well in his Spring Preview:
Field-goal kicking is more of a question mark. Cade Foster at times can boom them long and straight, but can achieve short and crooked at other times, with too much of the latter in 2012, when he hit only 4 of 9. The hope is that last year's blue-chipper, Adam Griffith, can take over both Shelley's and Foster's duties. If Griffith doesn't pan out, we could see some experimentation and temporizing at the position, if not an outright disaster.
#4: Defensive Line, Mainly Defensive Tackle/End Depth
Jeoffrey Pagan and Ed Stinson return to anchor the defensive end position and Dalvin Tomlinson should begin to make a name for himself this fall. True sophomore Darren Lake got some good tutelage from Jesse Williams in 2012 and shows great promise. The addition of five star incoming true freshmen, A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen (who may split time as a Jack linebacker) will most certainly help on the defensive line. Let's not forget that Korren Kirven (292) and Dakota Ball (270) both red-shirted last year. There is talent here but as I mentioned, it's just young and inexperienced.
In the end, you don't have to be a gump to see that Alabama will be the most talented team on the field in every game this upcoming season. If this team stays focused and approaches the season in the same fashion its two older brothers did, then the sky is the limit. But, if the program's success creeps in and all the new toys and attention take center stage, the season could be over before it even begins.
And let's not kid ourselves, Championships define success at Alabama. Ten wins are nice, Crystal footballs are nicer.
Corner Back- Even though 'Bama had the top Corner in all of college football last year, the unit as a whole struggled at times. Belue was inconsistent early but came on late in the year. John Fulton seemed lost for most of the season and true freshman Geno Smith was inexperienced.
Fortunately, both Smith and Fulton had strong Springs and should take a giant leap forward in 2013. Cyrus Jones also adds depth. Those in the know seem high on incoming freshman Jonathan Cook as well.