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Jumbo Package: Analysts are bullish on Alabama’s repeat chances in 2021

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Ohio State vs Alabama Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, everyone. We will open up with Dennis Dodd this morning, who is discussing the defense optional nature of modern college football.

In 2003, Shula’s squad went 4-9 giving up more than 360 yards per game. That mark stands as Alabama’s second-worst record since 1957, the year before Bear Bryant arrived. But it was a different game back then. That was the last year Alabama gave up more yards than it gained. In 2020, it averaged its most yards ever (542).

So you can see defense doesn’t matter — as much — these days. Defensively, the game has become more about forcing turnovers and getting stops. Both cut down opponents’ possessions. Fewer possessions, fewer opportunities to score. Alabama finished tied for third in turnover margin at +10 this season. That’s the third time in four years Bama has ranked in the top five nationally in that category.

“You have to defend how you pick players to play certain positions,” Saban said, “because the game is so much more a perimeter game now than it used to be.”

He notes that Alabama’s defense is the worst of the playoff era to win a national title, but it should be noted that they didn’t play any G5 or FCS opponents this season. Still, the last two champions have had the two worst, and that is telling.

Alabama’s recruiting class has made believers out of a lot of people.

Alabama now holds the No. 1 spot unanimously with Brandon Marcello changing his vote from the Sooners to the Crimson Tide after a historic recruiting class signed in Tuscaloosa. The offense transitions, most likely, to the Bryce Young era with Mac Jones off to the NFL and creating major buzz out of the Senior Bowl. Similarly to other championship seasons, the focus in Alabama turns to replacing key assistants. Departures include two head coaches (Steve Sarkisian to Texas and Charles Huff at Marshall) as well as Kyle Flood, Jeff Banks, Karl Scott and a slew of analysts. Since the championship game, Alabama officially added Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator, too.

Oklahoma? Give me a break. They are getting a lot of hype for blowing out a Florida team that would have been lucky to finish above .500 without the guys who opted out of that one. Bill Connelly’s SP+ agrees with Alabama’s top billing.

The WR position will be a fun battle.

The Tide added four elite players to the position room in 2021 in Jacorey Brooks, Agiye Hall, JoJo Earle and Christian Leary. All four players were ranked among the top 75 prospects in the country and three of them — Brooks, Hall and Leary — are already on campus as early enrollees. With spots up for grabs, the youngsters will have opportunities to play early this fall.

“We’re certainly gonna need some people to step up at that position because we did lose some really good players,” Saban said on National Signing Day. “We’ve had years in the past when we’ve played young guys at that position and they’ve made significant contributions. ... There’s gonna be a lot of opportunity at a lot of positions, but especially at wide receiver for these guys to make a contribution.”

Brooks just oozes potential.

Sark is saying all the right things.

“My time with coach Saban was tremendous,” Sarkisian said during a recent interview with GBAG Nation on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. ”He’s a great mentor of mine. He’s a tremendous coach. He’s a tremendous leader. Obviously, we’re different people, with different niches. He’s a defensive guy, I’m an offensive guy, and the idea is that, hopefully, we are going into the same living room back-to-back nights competing for the same players off the field.

“And then the goal is that at the end of the college football season, we are competing on the field in the playoff because that’s the standard here. And I know that’s the standard at Alabama, and we should be going toe-to-toe on a daily basis with recruits, and we should be going toe-to-toe on the field every season.”

Good luck with that, pal.

Last, rumor has it that Alabama has hired a new tackling coach.

Form is impeccable, isn’t it?

That’s about it for now. Have a great day.

Roll Tide.