Crimson Tide Football: Five Key Areas to Watch

Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough scores a touchdown against Charleston Southern on Nov. 21, 2015. Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough scores a touchdown against Charleston Southern on Nov. 21, 2015. University of Alabama Athletics

For fans of Nick Saban's University of Alabama football team, preseason hype has already translated into good news, as many scribes and gridiron seers are already forecasting the Crimson Tide to repeat as Southeastern Conference champs and successfully defend its 2015 national championship.  

The following five items, however, will be key areas to watch as Alabama seeks to reign supreme as champions of the SEC once again, and to also gain its 17th national title in 2016.  

 

Solving the quarterback quandary: This is an issue that never ceases to cause gnashing of teeth and sheer pandemonium among the Crimson Nation, at least during the past two seasons with Alabama relying on first-year field generals in Blake Sims and Jake Coker. The result: two SEC titles, two trips to the College Football Playoffs and the program’s 16th national title in 2015. Junior Cooper Bateman, sophomore David Cornwell and redshirt freshman Blake Barnett appear to be the favorites for the job in 2016, and while the view here is that Bateman will get the first shot, whoever wins the position will once again not have to be extraordinary. He simply needs to be steady and mistake-free, as the Tide will once again have a dominating defense and a steady running game.  

Ground attack: Speaking of that running game, there is no denying that it is basically impossible for Alabama to replicate the prolific production of departed Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, which included 395 carries, 2282 yards and 28 touchdowns. Alabama, however, still has the potential for a very good running back corps. Fellow sophomores Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris should provide a good 1-2 punch at the position, and the legend continues to grow regarding Scarbrough, even though he must prove he can be a consistent ground-churner on a weekly basis in the always-rugged SEC. Alabama may also count on a true freshman such as highly-touted B.J. Emmons or Joshua Jacobs to provide quality depth.  

Offensive line: The departure of center Ryan Kelly and the arrest of All-American left tackle Cam Robinson has shed a little uncertainty on the line group as a whole, and it is yet to be seen if Robinson will miss many (if any) games as a result of his situation. Otherwise, it will be interesting to see how sophomore Ross Pierschbacher adjusts to his new role at center, and how other young players such as sophomore Lester Cotton and freshman Jonah Williams develop as possible new starters.   

Linebackers: With Reggie Ragland and his immense talents having departed to the National Football League, the time has come for talented senior weapons such as Reuben Foster, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson, as well as junior Rashaan Evans, to lead the way. This deep and athletic corps of linebackers should be fun to watch, and should also serve as a nice complimentary unit to what should also be another strong UA defensive front led by Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson, among others.   

Secondary: Cyrus Jones, a productive yet underrated member of the Alabama defensive backfield the past three years, has also taken his skills and leadership to the NFL, but the cupboard is hardly bare in this department for the Tide. Standouts such as Marlon Humphrey, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison should all be much more mature and much more consistent as team leaders in 2016. Alabama fans are also no doubt hoping that senior strong safety Eddie Jackson can also duplicate his strong season of a year ago. 

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Stan J Griffin

I am a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where I currently reside and work. I am doing regular sports and feature writing for the Tuscaloosa-based Druid City Living and also am the Alabama beat writer for Crimson Magazine. I am a 1993 graduate of the University of Alabama, where I wrote for The Crimson White. I have an extensive background in newspaper journalism, having served as a sports editor and reporter for the Delta Democrat Times, St. Clair News-Aegis, Andalusia Star-News and the St. Clair County News.

I also have my own sports blog site, The Sports Connection, which I partner on with a friend of mine, and we began this site in November of 2012. I write blog on a variety of sports subject, and have also had guest contributors write their own blogs for the site. I have interviewed prominent sports figures for the site, including Paul Finebaum of the new SEC Network.

Website: www.linkedin.com/in/stan-griffin-10506923

Lake Tuscaloosa Living (LTL) is the premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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