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.