Najee Harris scores the first TD of the season
The Najee Harris buzz is legit. Arriving in Tuscaloosa ballyhooed as the top high school player in the nation, Harris proved last season why he is one of the favorites to hoist the Heisman Trophy. Although quarterbacks usually win the Heisman, Alabama legend Derrick Henry was the last back to win the prestigious award in 2015.
The primary cog of the offensive machine, Najee, provides a great start to jumpstart the offense.
While fans remain fixated on the quarterback play, the burly back will steal the show early running behind one of the nation’s best offensive lines.
The defense holds Tigers to less than 100 yards rushing
When Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon went down with season-ending injuries in fall camp, the middle of the defense fell into the inexperienced hands of two true freshmen in Shane Lee and Christian Harris. The defense never recovered and did not play like a Nick Saban defense.
One of the biggest disappointments with the defense last season was the run defense. Known for stuffing runners and not allowing hundred-yard rushers, Crimson Tide finished an uncharacteristic 37th in run defense, allowing 137 yards per game.
Manhandling an offensive line replacing three starters should not be an issue for a healthy front seven returning Moses in the middle. Clogging the running lanes begins with sophomore defensive tackle DJ Dale. Providing an impact like prior stars Daron Payne and Quinnen Williams will set the tone for the embattled defense. The presence of LaBryan Ray gives the Tide another stout run stuffer.
The defensive line and linebacker depth are deep enough for the first game where defensive coordinator Pete Golding has no excuses for a letdown. Expect the Tide to stifle the running game big time and shut down returning senior running back Larry Rountree III.