COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOV 12 Alabama at Ole Miss"> clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Roll ‘Bama Roll 2023 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Preseason Roundtable: Part Two

We’ve got lots of questions...we also have a lot of answers.

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOV 12 Alabama at Ole Miss

Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here is Part Two of the special preseason Roll ‘Bama Roll 2023 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Round discussion.

If you missed Part One, follow the link below.

Let’s get into today’s topics:

6. The 2023 Alabama Crimson Tide Football season will be considered a successful one if ____.

CB: They can drastically cut down on penalties.

Josh: They make it back to Atlanta.

Brent: Make it to the SEC championship and the CFB Playoffs. Do that, and I’ll consider it a success. Of course, once there, as fans, we’ll get even more invested and will be crushed if the Tide doesn’t win it all, just like in 2021 when we all said making the Playoffs was overachieving, and then it hurt just as bad when the Tide lost the final game.

Erik: I’d like to say something aspirational, like “make the playoffs.” But I think this is a program that has reached an inflection point — call it Midlife Crisis 2.0. There are so many changes going on under the hood: from recruiting to philosophy.

With that many changes, and this much uncertainty, I can’t accurately pin down a Win-Loss outcome that is successful. But I do know that I’m tired of watching Alabama beat themselves, of this team being dumb as hell, of far too many undisciplined headcases who are on the field because there is no one better on the bench.

So, what I want to see is Alabama become Alabama again. Tough, feared, disciplined. And, if someone beats us, they just do — but we’ve not been that kind of team in a long, long time. If Saban really is returning to his roots, then wins and losses aside, this program has to be rebuilt mentally and structurally first. You know The Process when you see it; so let’s see it in 2023.

7. Who’s going to make the CFP in 2023-2024, and who would you say is the national title favorite.

CB: Georgia (favorite), Michigan, Southern Cal, Alabama.

Josh: I’m going to go Full Gump and say Alabama wins a CFP featuring Ohio State, Georgia, and USC. The Trojans just have it too easy this year and Michigan won’t live up to the hype.

Brent: I think we’re pretty likely to see Alabama and Georgia both make it AGAIN. And then the winner of Ohio State and Michigan AGAIN. For the 4th team.... Texas has been a trendy pick lately. There’s also USC with Caleb Williams, or maybe Clemson rounds back into shape. For me, I kind of like the dark horse of Florida State. They blasted their way through the final six games of the season and looked like an actual, legitimate team shaping up at the end of 2022. Who knows, maybe they push forward in 2023.

And as far as a favorite, it’s Georgia until the Bulldogs prove anything different. I think that, most likely, the Dawgs are going to be in for a tough year with keeping up the intense mentality, but that’s not something I can bank on until it happens.

Erik: Michigan is a sexy pick, and should be: they’re loaded. But it’s also a distracted team, and for the first time in about 15 years, the favorite. So I’m going to tap the brakes on the Wolverines. I have bad news for fans of small market teams though: the oligarchy is alive and well.

Your field will be: Georgia, Ohio State, and then a scrum for the last two spots between a lot of 10-2ish teams in Alabama / Utah / Clemson / FSU / USC / Oregon State / Washington / Oregon / Michigan. Texas is a sexy pick, but until Sarkisian proves he can win on the road — which he has never done in his career — then look for Shorty to flop, even in a down year for the Big 12.

Who’s the favorite? To be the king, you gotta’ kill the king. Until UGA proves otherwise, they have to be, right?

8. The season’s biggest surprise will be ___.

CB: Florida State knocking on the CFP door.

Josh: Whoever starts at QB will have top ten stats.

Brent: Alabama actually throws the ball to a TE.

Ok, I kid. Kind of. Tommy Rees has a history of loving his TE, and the hype around Amari Niblack keeps growing. Who knows? I guess one way to not worry about an under performing receiver group is to just throw it to the TE instead.

As far as a national landscape surprise, I’m going to double down on my earlier answer of Florida State making the playoffs. The Noles are going to make some noise this year.

Erik: I think that the PAC 12 overall is going to surprise folks.

USC is going to disappoint people this year. We saw diminishing returns throughout Lincoln Riley’s career at Oklahoma, and teams have now gone through the order with his offense. It never changes; it is what it is; and he’s simply not a good adjustment coach. Caleb Williams is out-talenting a lot of pedestrian defenses. But the Trojans have serious losses on both sides of the line, a tire fire defense, and a PAC 12 that knows what to look for now. This is a two-loss team with a lot of hungry offenses waiting to tee off...and a blueprint generously provided by Utah.

The rest of the P12 will be just as competitive. Washington and Oregon are legit Top 15 teams, largely based on talent and competition. But you take your contenders as you find them.

Oregon State is my real darkhorse here. Great running game, good defense, play well above their heads, talent at the wideout spot, tough home environment. Sure, they were 7-6 last season, but they were also about 30 total points away from being a playoff contender. If DJU makes the most of his second-chance in Corvallis, the Beavers will be a dark horse playoff contender. There’s no reason to think he can’t either. The PAC 12 is so awful, that Bo Pix is a legitimate Heisman contender.

9. Final thoughts, observations?

CB: Tom Allen (Indiana) and Neal Brown (West Virginia) will be fired. Mizzou’s Eli Drinkwitz is on the hot seat. Jimbo buyout is still too high ($77M). FSU wins the ACC. Michigan repeats in the B1G. Texas takes the B12 trophy with them as they exit stage right. So Cal out west. UGA in the SEC.

Josh: We’ll find out early on what this team is made of. They are universally doubted and certainly should play with a chip on their shoulders. If that happens and some key spots develop, 2023 can be a special season.

Brent: There’s a lot of talk that Alabama’s defense is showing significant signs of improvement under Kevin Steele, and Caleb Downs is the back-end superstar that Alabama has been missing. Couple that with a OL that sounds be doing very well and a strong running back group, and Alabama has a lot of pieces in place to really, really make a run.

QB and WR make me nervous, for sure. But it’s not like Saban hasn’t had a history of tweaking his offense to minimize the importance of those spots. We just got used to the Bryce Young show the last two years. If we try to run that offense with any of the QBs on the roster right now, it will go poorly. But if the Tide gets back to featuring YAC and dynamic running game concepts (not just constraint runs to keep the defense honest), the ceiling is right back to National Championship.

Erik: I think that a lot of ‘Bama’s secondary defenders are going to make a lot of money this year. The secondary is always aided by a pass rush, and Alabama figures to once again have one of the best in the country. But it won’t be propped up by that rush. Kool-Aid is the best defensive player in the country. Period. Key and Amos are great players in their own right. Pope has some serious athleticism. Malachi has taken his veteran experience and is now channeling into what he does best: man-up press at the Star, rather than being tasked with covering a third of the field. Caleb Downs is a can’t-miss Minkah clone. Little is already pressing for playing time. Terrion Arnold can start at several positions on the defense...etc. This secondary is going to be good — most people know that. I suggest that the potential is there for it to be a kind of special we’ve not seen in about a decade.

Maryland is going to be remarkably dangerous in the Big 10. ‘Lia is ready for that next step, and the Terps defense drastically improved last season.

Turnover at coordinator, and so many roster losses and recruiting misses, coupled with an improving East are going to start catching up with Georgia — we’ll see that manifest this year, likely costing the Dawgs a game. Still one of the best in the country, but the slippage will start to become noticeable.

Tennessee is going to return to being a gimmicky 7-5 Gator Bowl-type team. Kentucky will win 10 games. Aggie will win the West.

USC will not play for the PAC 12 title, though Caleb does become the first back-to-back Heisman winner in half a decade.

Alabama will start to look like Alabama again...but it just may not be enough, as the Tide’s transitional growing pains manifest themselves early. In a pleasant change of pace, the Tide will be a much better November team than September one.

Thanks for reading our Roundtable. We always enjoy doing these. And I hope we’ve given you some things to talk about over the coming days. So, let’s get it kicked off with today’s discussion question: