Do we really need to retell what happened to the Alabama Crimson Tide (14-1) last season? They were perfect straight through the season, in the SEC championship game, and in the CFB Playoffs until they ran into Clemson. The Tigers mauled the Tide, beating them in for the National Championship 35-31. Our 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide college football preview notes that the journey for this team starts again. They are ranked number one and everyone wants to push them off that pedestal.
As a freshman last year, QB Jalen Hurts had an amazing season, and he is back again for 2017. Hurts threw for over 2,700 yards, ran for 954 more, and either passed or ran for a total of 36 TDs. He threw just nine picks. Although the right side of his frontline is new, the O-line is formidable. The biggest concern is right tackle.
Alabama’s top receiver, ArDarius Stewart, is gone, but junior WR Calvin Ridley is ready to go. In 2016, Ridley caught 72 passes, had seven TD receptions, and averaged 10.7 YPC. Another big loss is the very productive O.J. Howard who had 45 catches and averaged 13.2 YPC. Senior wideout Robert Foster is looking to have a huge season after missing all of last year due to injury. The ground attack should be potent, as junior Bo Scarbrough, who is coming off a leg fracture, is ready to take up from where he left off. In 2016, he had 11 TD runs, averaged 6.5 YPA, and ran for 812 yards. Also in line for the ball is junior Damien Harris who ran for over 1,000 yards and averaged 7.1 YPA.
Alabama scored an average of 38.8 PPG in 2016, but their true strength was on defense where they were ranked first nationally in points allowed per game at 13.0. They were second in total yards allowed at 261.8. Here’s the skinny on this situation, despite the fact that the Tide always seems to have players ready to step up and take on the next challenge, they do have to replace six starters including two upfront, three in the middle and one deep.
The secondary does look solid, as junior SS Minkah Fitzpatrick (66 TCKLs, 4 TFL, 7 PBU, 6 INTs) and junior FS Ronnie Harrison (86 TCKLs, 1.5 SCKs, 7 PBU, 2 INTs) return. Also senior Antony Averett (48 TCKLs, 1 SCKS, 2 TFL, 8 PBU) returns at corner, leaving the other corner to sophomore Trevon Diggs. Diggs did play last year, but on offense as a wideout. He’s big and athletic and should adapt well to his new environment. Shaun Dion Hamilton (64 TCKLs, 2 SCKs, 7 TFL, 2 INts) will hopefully occupy the WLB spot. Hamilton had December ACL surgery. He is a major force and anchor for that group. Also, look for senior MLB Rashaan Evans (53 TCKLs, 4 SCKs, 2 PBU, 6 QBH) to be a prime playmaker.
Eddie Jackson, who averaged 23.0 YPA on punt returns, has to be replaced. Diigs proven to be a solid kick return man, getting 23.7 YPA, and will continue there and may also take punts. Freshman Joseph Bulovas gets a shot at placekicker, while J.K. Scott returns for his fourth season as punter. Scott is a premium punter, averaging 47.2 YPP and pinning 25 inside the 20-yard line.
2017 Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Preview: Final Word
Nick Saban (210-61-1 Overall, 11-9 Bowls) starts his 11th season with the Tide. In that time, he is 119-19 and 8-4 in Bowls. Saban and his staff certainly know how to put together a team that is diverse, talented, skilled, and deep. Our 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide college football preview envisions this team once again in the thick of the competition for a national championship. Everyone will want to beat them.
Pay attention to the Sep 9 game when TCU visit the Tide in a game where the Horned Frogs will want to make up for last year’s disappointing loss. Oct 7 sees Alabama visit Texas A&M, The Aggies would love an upset here. Tennessee visits the Tide on Oct 21. Saban is 10-0 versus the Vounteers and has beat them by an average score of 35-11. LSU visit Alabama on Nov 4. Saban has not lost to his former team since he left them. The Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn will be played on Nov 25 at the Tiger’s home field. The winner of this game has played for the national championship eight years running.
Top Three Takeaways
- The Crimson Tide is loaded
- Hurts will hurt opponents
- Vulnerable because everyone wants to beat them