It’s been an eventful past three months, to say the least; a span of time that now brings as many questions as it does optimism.
The media attention will rightly be on the quarterback battle between former SEC Offensive Player of the Year Jalen Hurts and his understudy. The junior-to-be is 26-1 as a starter, holds half-a-dozen Alabama records, and has been as good a leader as you could ask of a young player thrown into the fire with three offensive coordinators. But, the big fat crimson elephant in the room has been lingering concerns arising in a handful of meaningful games that he simply cannot get it done with his arm against elite competition. Hurts’ incumbency will be challenged by the prototypical gunslinger, the hero of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Tua Tagovailoa.
Nothing less than the short-term future of the program is at stake, as well as the collegiate (and possible professional) fortunes of two stand-up, high character guys.
But, this isn’t the only challenge facing Nick Saban as he enters his 12th season at the Capstone. Stop me if you’ve heard this one — but there are some questions about the offensive line, specifically at center and on the right side. There is an entire secondary’s worth of talent to replace from a unit that will lose all five starters to Sunday paychecks. The kicking game has been eviscerated with the loss of two senior specialists, one of whom was the best ever at his position in Alabama’s 126 year history. There are looming battles at inside linebacker. There is a supremely talented, but pacifier-young, wide receiving corps that enters 2018 without an identifiable No. 1 starter. Then, and perhaps underestimated, is the entirely new coaching staff that has to learn The Process, be among the best in the country in an increasingly-national recruiting plan, all while still meeting Saban’s exacting standards for Xs and Os and teaching.
Spring Practice begins today, the unofficial start of 2018 Alabama Crimson Tide Football. We make you one guarantee: despite the questions facing these teams, all in varying degrees of resolution, it’s going to be one helluva ride before the season even kicks off.
Unit previews will begin today with the Offensive Line.