Story Poster
Go Hour: Bama
Chris Stewart
Texas A&M Football

Even with significant losses, Tide again reloading rather than rebuilding

July 13, 2021
6,130

None would doubt the expectations that Alabama will reload rather than rebuild.

The question is whether the Crimson Tide is reloading a shotgun or a howitzer.

It can be taken for granted that Alabama’s 2021 football team will be good … really good. Whether the Tide can be close to as good as the dominant national champions of a year ago is a legitimate question.

Alabama lost half the starters from last season’s 13-0 team, which annihilated opponents by an average of 29 points.

Those losses included nine players selected in the NFL draft. Six of those were first-round picks.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Saban now has seven National Championship rings as the Tide captured the program’s 18th title last season.

Such attrition is not easy to overcome. Indeed, LSU lost a slew of drafted players, including five first-round picks, from its unbeaten 2019 national championship team. The Tigers struggled to break even in 2020.

Alas, Alabama is not LSU, and Tide coach Nick Saban is not LSU coach Ed Orgeron. Suffice it to say, Saban will patch up the holes faster and more efficiently than Orgeron did.

“We know we lost a lot of really good players to the draft, but a lot of character goes along with that, and leadership,” Saban said last spring. “That all has to be replaced by somebody who played last year who really didn’t have to assume that role.

“So roles change, players change, responsibilities change. And it’s always a challenge to see how you can bring that together and get a team to sort of be the best that they can be so they have a chance to compete for an SEC championship and get in the playoffs and have a chance to compete for a national championship.”

Assume Saban will turn Alabama into a championship contender with talent assembled from top five ranked recruiting classes in the last five years.

Quarterback and receiver are areas of concern with newcomers stepping into the roles filled by first-round picks Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.

However, Bryce Young was the No. 1 rated quarterback prospect in the country in the 2020 recruiting class. Meanwhile, John Metchie, who had 916 receiving yards as a freshman, and an array of former five-star prospects boost the receiving corps.

Further, projected first-round tackle Evan Neal will be the cornerstone of an offensive line rebuilt with highly-rated recruits.

The defense was vulnerable in 2020 but figures to be improved.

Linebacker Will Anderson is expected to lead a fiercer pass rush, while Malachi Moore, Jordan Battle and Daniel Wright return as starters to a secondary that figures to be upgraded.

Alabama Crimson Tide

  • Coach: Nick Saban
  • 2020 record: 13-0
  • Postseason result: Defeated Ohio State, 52-24, to win National Championship

Returning starters: Offense 3 Defense 8

Area of strength: Insiders believe Alabama will have its best defense since the 2016 unit that led the nation. That’s a high expectation for a unit that last season was ranked 32nd nationally, lost its leading tackler, sack leader and top defensive back and its coordinator was often under fire. Yet, if any team can make such dramatic improvement it’s Alabama. Sophomore LB Will Anderson and senior Christopher Allen are expected to provide a fierce pass rush. The secondary projects to be exceptional. Insiders say keep a close eye on sophomore NG Tim Smith, who could be the next Quinnen Williams.

Area of concern: Alabama typically has few concerns. This year will be no different. However, there could be a certain amount of uneasiness regarding quarterback. Sophomore Bryce Young has star potential but has played sparingly at the collegiate level. He attempted 22 passes as a freshman. Also, depth is worrisome. If Young sprains an ankle the whole offense could be limping.

Significant losses: WR Jaylen Waddle (first-round NFL draft pick); WR DeVonta Smith (first-round NFL draft pick); CB Patrick Surtain (first-round NFL draft pick); QB Mac Jones (first-round NFL draft pick); OT Alex Leatherwood (first-round NFL draft pick); RB Najee Harris (first-round NFL draft pick); C Landon Dickerson (second-round NFL draft pick); DT Christian Barmore (second-round NFL draft pick); G Deonte Brown (sixth round NFL draft pick); LB Dylan Moses (NFL free agent)

Key additions: Jameson Williams, WR (transfer from Ohio State), Henry To’o To’o, LB (transfer from Tennessee); Dallas Turner, DE (five star freshman)

Top three players

  • OLB Will Anderson: As a true freshman, Anderson posted seven sacks. He had two in consecutive games against LSU, Arkansas and Florida. Look for him to increase that total.
  • OT Evan Neal: Neal is a remarkable athlete at 360 pounds. He’ll shift from right tackle to the left side. He figures to be among the first offensive linemen taken in the 2022 NFL draft.
  • QB Bryce Young: Young was the nation’s top-rated quarterback prospect in the 2020 recruiting class. He’ll look to continue an impressive run of Alabama quarterbacks that includes Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. Betting against him would seem unwise.

2021 schedule

  • Sept. 4 vs. Miami at Atlanta
  • Sept. 11 vs. Mercer
  • Sept. 18 at Florida
  • Sept. 25 vs. Southern Miss
  • Oct. 2 vs. Ole Miss
  • Oct. 9 at TEXAS A&M
  • Oct. 16 at Mississippi State
  • Oct. 23 vs. Tennessee
  • Nov. 6 vs. LSU
  • Nov. 13 vs. New Mexico State
  • Nov. 20 vs. Arkansas
  • Nov. 27 at Auburn

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Discussion from...

Even with significant losses, Tide again reloading rather than rebuilding

3,812 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by aggiejim70
AgOutsideAustin
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AG
Definitely beatable at Kyle this year.
L1TexAg95
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AG
Daaaaayum, Nunez rocking that smedium

Good stuff guys
Sterling82
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Alabama is reloading with great players, no doubt. The reload at OC is the biggest question mark. In my opinion, O'Brien is one of the biggest skillet heads in the game and will stifle the high flying offense we saw last year.
aggiejim70
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AG
Anybody know the early line on Alabama-New Mexico State?
The person that is not willing to fight and die, if need be, for his country has no right to life.

James Earl Rudder '32
January 31, 1945
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