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Alabama Football 2017: A simulated season

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What will Alabama’s 2017 season look like? Why don’t we let NCAA 12 tell us

NCAA Football: Cowboys Classic-Wisconsin vs Alabama Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago, I showed all of you my work and effort put into updating the Alabama roster on my old NCAA 12 video game.

Since then, I spent my time playing out the season, and will now share the results from that. Obviously, the college football landscape has changed significantly since the 2011 season, and only the Alabama roster has been updated in my game (Michael Dyer and Barrett Trotter led the Auburn offense). I had to manually shift Texas A&M and Missouri into the conference, and managed to schedule Florida State as the first game of the season. All in all, it ended up really close to the Tide’s actual schedule.

There also was not a playoff then, it was still the BCS National Championship, so the Tide played one less game than they have over the past two real-life seasons.

So we’ll start with the record. Alabama went 11-1 in the regular season, losing to Arkansas in a ridiculous shoot out that saw the two teams score nearly 100 points combined. After that, Saban and crew handled South Carolina 24-14 in the SEC championship to finish the season ranked #2 overall, and earning a shot against the undefeated Oklahoma Sooners (ha, the most unrealistic part of the whole simulation. Okie without Stoops this year is going to be a mess). Unfortunately, we ended up losing that game 31-21.

As a team, Alabama’s offense was actually the best in the nation. 12th overall in passing offense and 3rd in rushing offense. That balance led to 6846 total yards to lead the league.

Defensively, on the other hand, was a bit of a disastrous feast-or-famine in the secondary. The pass defense gave up 3154 yards through the air, which was good for 109th. But at the same time, the Alabama defense led the league with both interceptions and sacks, with 26 and 46 respectively.

As for the run defense, they were stingy in typical Alabama fashion, giving up only 1556 yards, which was third in the nation. When it was all said and done, the Tide was 53rd in total defense and 1st in turnover differential.

Now lets talk individual performaces:

Jalen Hurts came in 4th on the Heisman ballet. He completed 201/387 passes, good for a meager 51% completion percentage, but was operating in a vertically based offense. So with his 201 completions, he got 3192 yards, and scored 34 touchdowns while throwing 14 picks. He also added 641 yards on the ground (not including negative yardage from sacks) and 8 touchdowns.

JK Scott won the Ray Guy award, and was the only Tide player to win a trophy. He averaged 46.5 yards per punt and downed 12 inside the 20.

The All-American voting was as bit odd, I think, when you look at who was selected vs. how their team/units performed. Da’Ron Payne, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Ronnie Harrison all were 1st team All-Americans, despite their defense being only 53rd overall. Meanwhile, the Ray Guy award winner, JK Scott, was voted 2nd team All-American.

Jerry Jeudy and Quinnen Williams both made the Freshman All-American team.

In the rushing game, Damien Harris led the way with 1124 yards on a 6.1 ypc clip, while scoring 11 touchdowns. Bo Scarbrough was only barely behind him, rushing for 1052 yards on 6.0 ypc. He led the rushers with 14 touchdowns.

Josh Jacobs had the best average with 6.6 ypc, but missed a fourth of the season with a sprained ankle and ended up with 556 yards and 5 touchdowns. Najee Harris also got some time in mop-up duty and occasional game situations, and 231 yards with 5.3 ypc, while adding a touchdown of his own.

The receiving corps was mostly the Calvin Ridley show. He caught 57 balls for 947 yards while scoring 8 touchdowns. Cam Sims was used as a primary redzone threat, and caught 31 passes for 506 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Robert Foster had some injury issues on and off, but was still the third leading receiver with 22 catches for 506 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jerry Jeudy caught 16 for 249 with two touchdowns of his own.

Only Miller Forristall contributed as a receiver from the tight end group, and caught 26 passes for 423 yards, but no touchdowns.

The running backs were also quite involved in the passing game (as we all expect them to be under Daboll). Scarbrough caught 27 balls for 233 yards and added 4 more touchdowns there, while Jacobs caught 18 for 194 and a touchdown.

On defense, Rashaan Evans led the team with 73 tackles, while Fitzpatrick and Harrison followed close behind, with 65 and 66. Christian Miller had 61 and Shaun Dion Hamilton was next with 56.

As for the pass rush, Da’Ron Payne really broke out, getting 10 sacks from an interior tackle position. Terrell Lewis followed with 5.5 sacks, and Quinnen Williams and Anfernee Jennings both got 4.5. D’Shawn hand followed with 4.

Trevon Diggs led the team with 6 interceptions, and Shaun Hamilton was actually next, getting 5 from his middle linebacker position. Fitzpatrick and Harrison were next with 4 each.

Anthony Averett, Tony Brown, and Shyheim Carter scored the team’s three defensive touchdowns-- Brown’s being the coolest, when he pulled a Cyrus Jones and stole away an option pitch and waltzed 70 yards to the endzone.

At the time of starting this simulation, I wasn’t totally sure if Joseph Bulovas would actually be on the team, so Andy Pappanastos was the kicker this season. He went 8/22 with a long of 37 yards. Yuck.

So, what do you think? How many of these stats are realistic, and how many are just plain wrong? Argue and give your own predictions in the comments.