The Alabama Crimson Tide head into the 2013 football season as the two-time defending BCS National Champions, and are favorites to compete for a third straight. Nick Saban’s recruiting machine continues to land top talent, and the Alabama system develops those players into pro-caliber athletes.
So how does the Tide offense shape up this season? We’ve seen the A-Day performance as well as followed spring practice, and here are some things that stand out:
After AJ McCarron, it’s a wide open race at QB: Alabama had three freshman quarterbacks enroll early this year, and while they weren’t necessarily lights out, they showed flashes of ability for being the new kids on the block. The backup quarterback spot is likely to wind up between Blake Sims and Alec Morris, who looked better than any of the QB’s not named AJ McCarron. In a game that was filled with turnovers, Morris was the only one who threw at least 10 passes and didn’t have one intercepted. Blake Sims was the backup last year, and what little experience he gained should go a long ways towards helping him this fall. The odd man out will likely be Philip Ely, a third-year Sophomore who wasn’t bad at the A-Day game but was relegated to mop up duty with the incoming freshman, only throwing four passes for eight yards.
Amari Cooper will benefit from having Kenny Bell back: After Bell broke his leg against Auburn in 2012, Cooper was still able to rack up consecutive 100-yard games in the SEC Championship and the national championship and finished as the lone receiver for Alabama with 1,000 yards receiving. That will likely make him the main target at receiver for defenses who think they can stop Bama’s running game. Along with Amari and Kenny putting pressure on defenses, Junior DeAndrew White could be poised for a break out year. There was a reason he was a four-star recruit coming out of Houston, Texas and chose Alabama over prolific passing offenses in Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Baylor. He’ll get his chances this year and showed that he can make the most of them at the A-Day game, catching three passes for 62 yards.
Running backs will be just as deep as ever: In the past few years, you’ve had Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy leading a stable of stacked running backs. This year will likely be no different as TJ Yeldon will look to lead a group of running backs followed by Kenyan Drake and Trey Roberts. Part of what made the past running backs so good was that when they came out of the game, defenses still got no rest as the backups for Alabama would be starters at most schools in the country. In what has become a Nick Saban and Alabama tradition, I don’t see this year being much different as you could potentially see two rushers top 1,000 yards.
Brothers on the offensive line? Certainly looks that way after the A-Day game, in which we saw younger brother Arie Kouandjio get the start alongside older brother Cyrus Kouandjio. While Saban has already said that the battles at right tackle and left guard have not ended, it certainly makes you wonder how motivated Arie will be to hold on to his spot at left guard knowing brother Cyrus will be lining up beside him at tackle. Certainly it has to give Alabama a little bit of an edge as far as trusting each other and knowing your partners tendencies.
Finding a home: Kellen Williams will be a fifth-year Senior this fall, and is currently listed as the backup to Arie Kouandjio at Left Guard. Assuming things go unchanged through fall camp, it will be reassuring for Crimson Tide fans to know that he can provide relief at Center, Guard or Tackle along the offensive line.