Alabama Football: Value of returning expereince in ‘Super Senior’ season

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For some college football teams, the return of ‘super seniors’ will be a major boost. For Alabama Football, having Brian Robinson Jr. and Chris Owens utilize an available extra senior season is important.

According to Ralph Russo of the Associated Press, more than 1,000, 2020 seniors are returning for the NCAA-allowed extra year. The Alabama Crimson Tide has so many players declare early for the NFL Draft, it does not have a large annual roster of seniors.

On the opposite end of that spectrum, are schools like New Mexico. The Lobos will have 14 super seniors on the roster. Returning experience helps teams, but even with New Mexico’s 2021 boost, the Lobos will not vault into sudden gridiron dominance.

The Alabama Crimson Tide, while having a low number of super seniors, does return lots of experience. In addition to super seniors B-Rob and Owens, the Alabama football roster has 38 players with three or more years of experience.

Alabama Football returning production on offense is minimal

The more important measurement than returning experience is returning production. According to data compiled by Bill Connelly, the multi-year average of returning production is 62 percent. Connelly projects that average will be up about 10 points in 2021. Many teams will be over 80 percent, with some exceeding 90 percent. Alabama Football is not one of the high, returning production teams. Over 70 percent of the Tide’s 2020, offensive production is gone.

With Georgia’s George Pickens missing at least most of the 2021 season with a knee injury, the top SEC teams in returning offensive production are Missouri at 79 percent and Ole Miss at 76 percent. The Crimson Tide number of 26 percent is the lowest in the SEC. The two next-lowest teams are Florida and Texas A&M, both at 44 percent.

In returning defensive production, Mississippi State at 85 percent; Arkansas at 84 percent and Auburn at 83 percent lead the SEC. The Crimson Tide are not far behind at 76 percent. Returning production does not guarantee significantly improved rosters. The Arkansas Razorbacks return much 2020 production from a defense that, depending on the stat, was 10th or 11th in the SEC. The Hogs could be better in 2021 and still be below average defensively.

Ole Miss is another example where returning production can mislead. The offensive production returning for Lane Kiffin will not help much without a major improvement in last season’s porous defense.

The Crimson Tide’s opening opponent, the Miami Hurricanes have a roster filled with returning production. With a returning 96 percent on offense and 90 percent on defense, some college football experts suggest the Canes could challenge Clemson for the ACC title.

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The Canes returning production percentage on offense requires a healthy D’Eriq King. King may or may not be ready for the season-opener against the Crimson Tide.