Alabama Football: The Daily Insider – March 27

Oct 10, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; A general view of Bryant-Denny Stadium during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; A general view of Bryant-Denny Stadium during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama football fans have a big appetite for information and we’ll be serving up healthy portions of hot food for thought with a side of seasonal inside information every morning this Spring.

There was a time when getting to the Waysider early on a weekday morning was the best way to learn what was really going on with Alabama football.

In the compact dining area, all you had to do was listen. Most conversations included tidbits of information about the University and the football program.

These days there is more to be gleaned by surveying the digital landscape of multitudinous sources. The problem with this wondrous abundance of information is in separating the sense from the nonsense.

That’s where we come in. This column will endeavor to guide that process of discernment.

We’ll peruse message boards, podcasts, tweets, talk radio and numerous digital communication platforms. We’ll ferret out the most worthwhile information and offer our take on what it means.

Alabama football fans, check in with us here each morning and send us your comments and questions through Facebook or Twitter. We would love to hear from you.

The Daily Insider: March 27

There was no practice session on Sunday and the next practice is scheduled for Tuesday.

Alabama Crimson Tide Football
Alabama Crimson Tide Football /

Alabama Crimson Tide Football

Without new information from on-field sessions, we can devote today’s report to a bigger picture issue.

Specifically, let’s consider the key players that in 2017, Alabama football can ill afford to lose. Many fans believe the 2016 national championship was lost with Eddie Jackson’s season-ending injury against Texas A&M. Who are the 2017 players, if lost to injury, would lead to similarly dire consequences?

We believe there a seven 2017 players essential to another Alabama football championship run. At least two starring players are not included on our list solely because of the depth at their position.

For each of the seven we chose, their loss would hurt the team in two ways. The team would suffer because of the excellence of their individual play. Even with Alabama’s exceptionally talented roster, truly great players cannot always be replaced.

Beyond their individual talents, the loss of leadership from these seven players would multiply the negative impact on the overall team. The list begins with the defense.


  • Minkah Fitzpatrick – Losing an All-American cornerback would severely harm any team. When that player is an emotional leader for his teammates, the loss would create a void the Tide roster could not fill.
  • Da’Ron Payne – In past seasons, Payne has let his play do his talking. In 2017 he has accepted the responsibility to be not only one of the best defensive lineman in the nation but also to lead younger or less experienced teammates. Backups could play his position but not at Payne’s level of play.
  • Da’Shawn Hand – Hand has the most difficult challenge facing any 2017 player. Hand must assume the Jonathan Allen role for the Tide defense. It is probably too much to ask any player to match Allen’s achievements. The only 2017 Tide player with a chance to do so is Da’Shawn Hand.
  • Ronnie Harrison – Harrison must be the QB of the 2017 Tide secondary. After Minkah’s move to corner, only Harrison has the physicals tools, knowledge and experience to fill that role.


  • Jalen Hurts – If Hurts were to be lost to injury, a true-freshman will step in. Both Tua and Mac are gifted young players. Neither has yet developed the physical skills or the experience to replace an injured Jalen Hurts. One of them will be the No. 2 QB. It would be unfair to expect that No. 2 to provide Jalen Hurts’ leadership.
  • Jonah Williams – Williams is a physical leader for the 2017 Tide offensive line. If Williams were to be hurt, Alabama would be playing with an inexperienced and unproven left tackle. That is a recipe for disaster.
  • Bradley Bozeman – Bozeman and Williams will share the offensive line leadership role. In addition to being a powerful physical presence, Bozeman calls the blocking assignments. You never want to replace that skill-set during a season.

If these seven guys stay healthy Alabama football will make another championship run. Lose any of them for multiple key games and those national championship hopes will dim.

Next: The 30 Greatest Games in Tide History

Alabama fans let us hear from you. Tell us why Calvin Ridley or Bo Scarbrough or J.K. Scott should have been on our irreplaceable list. Check in with us on  Facebook or Twitter.