When news broke this week that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was lost for the season, it basically ended the Buckeyes hopes for a championship season before it even began. Many CFB pundits had placed OSU in their Final Four bracket. After confirmation of Miller's injury came out, Las Vegas oddsmakers dropped the Buckeyes' chances of winning a national championship from as high as 10-to-1 to 50-to-1. Now, they are slotted to finish second in their division. All because of one man.
Who is Alabama's Preseason MVP?
The effect that the loss of Miller has on his team is pretty devastating. It reveals the lack of depth at Ohio State and head coach Urban Meyer's misstep of not developing another quarterback behind him. Fortunately for Alabama, they do not have this problem. Blake Sims and Jake Coker are two different kinds of QB and Nick Saban and crew are prepared to follow behind either one. I would go as far as saying they might be okay even if Cooper Bateman was in charge - after three games of seasoning (WVU, FAU, USM).
The Crimson Tide is also pretty solid at running back with T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, and Derrick Henry. Having back-ups of Altee Tenpenny, Jalston Fowler, and Tyren Jones is a luxury.
Alabama has arguably the deepest wide receiving corps in the history of the program led by Amari Cooper. That said, Cooper definitely is a difference maker. His skills and leadership clearly have value that would be hard to replace.
Along the offensive line, there is no one lineman who brings it all together the way Barrett Jones did. Ryan Kelly is the leader of this year's squad with most likely a true freshman J.C. Hassenauer backing him up.
Saban has built up some fine depth along the defensive line. However, when news broke that Freshman All-American A'Shawn Robinson had left practice with an injury two weeks ago, many fans were scrambling for the nearest cactus to swing. Thankfully, he is back but it would be a different D line without him creating havoc for opposing offenses.
A big key to the Nick Saban/Kirby Smart defenses has been the middle linebacker. Linebackers like Rolando McClain, Dont'a Hightower, Nico Johnson, and C.J. Mosley have "quarterbacked" the defense to great glory. The hope is that senior Trey DePriest can continue that tradition. This is such at complex defense that it would be difficult to just plug someone else in there. It takes experience and knowledge.
The secondary is a bit of a question mark for the Tide in 2014. But one thing for sure is the strong safety position. It seems like only yesterday that Landon Collins was making his commitment to Alabama live on National TV much to the chagrin of his mom who made a sour face and held up some LSU gloves (BTW: she changed her tune a long time ago and supports her son at the Capstone). Now, he is a junior, a leader in the secondary, and the lynchpin of the defense. We will likely hear his name called on the first day of the 2015 NFL Draft.
There is one guy on special teams that if you don't hear his name it is probably a good thing. Some eyebrows were raised when Saban gave a scholarship to a two-star offensive lineman in 2013. But long snapper Cole Mazza has been solid as a rock.
So who do you think is the Preseason MVP? I am not talking about the guy with the best stats. Think VALUE, as in least expendable.