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Photo by Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M Football

Saban, Crimson Tide poised to settle unfinished business in 2022

August 2, 2022

Just the return of quarterback Bryce Young indicates that Alabama again projects to be dominant.

Not many teams have the luxury of bringing back their starting quarterback following a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign.

Young is a special talent with a special disposition.

“I think that one of the most important things for Bryce or any player who has success is to understand that success is not a continuum,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Success is momentary, so if you’re going to continue to have success, you have to stay focused on the things you need to do to improve, to prepare, to lead, to impact and affect other people around you.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Young is the first returning Heisman Trophy-winning QB since 2016 recipient Lamar Jackson came back to Louisville for the 2017 campaign.

“Bryce has shown every indication that he’s got a willingness to do all those things. He’s a perfectionist in terms of what he wants to do and what he wants to accomplish.”

There is no question about Young’s ability. However, there may be questions about his supporting cast on the Alabama offense.

The Tide must replace star left tackle Evan Neal, a first-round NFL draft choice, as well as receivers Jameson Williams (first-round pick) and John Metchie III (second-round pick) and 1,000-yard rusher Brian Robinson Jr. (third-round pick).

To address those losses, Saban looked to the transfer portal. He brought in tackle Tyler Steen from Vanderbilt, receiver Jermaine Burton from Georgia, receiver Tyler Harrell from Louisville and running back Jahmyr Gibbs from Georgia Tech.

Will those imports be as productive as the players they’re replacing? Probably not. But that might not be necessary.

Alabama’s defense allowed more than 20 points per game last season. That’s almost unheard of. Previously, Alabama had not allowed an average of 20 points per game since 2007.

The Crimson Tide defensive unit figures to be back to its usual self, with All-American linebacker Will Anderson Jr. heading a list of seven returning starters.

Also, the addition of former LSU cornerback Eli Ricks will upgrade an already talented and experienced secondary.

Alabama is not without flaws. There are some questions. Still, the greatest question that remains is whether any opponent is able to beat them.

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Considered by many to be the best defensive player in college football, Will Anderson is a Heisman contender himself.

Area of strength: It would be so easy to list quarterback here with Bryce Young returning. However, the outlook might be even better for the Tide’s pass rush. Alabama recorded a national-best 57 sacks last season. The return of linebackers Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner ensures Alabama again will cause significant problems for opposing quarterbacks.

Area of concern: Pass protection was an issue in 2021. Overall, the Crimson Tide allowed a whopping 41 sacks. That’s not much more than Alabama had allowed in the previous three seasons combined (47). The Tide allowed four sacks in losses to Texas A&M and Georgia. Also, that was with All-American Evan Neal at offensive tackle. Neal, the seventh player taken in the NFL draft, is gone now. He’s replaced by Vanderbilt transfer Tyler Steen.

Impact newcomer: LSU transfer Eli Ricks was a preseason All-SEC selection, and for good reason. Ricks had four interceptions and broke up five passes to earn All-SEC recognition as a true freshman in 2020. An injury limited him to just six games in 2021. Once again healthy, he figures to once again be among the nation’s best defensive backs.

Top three players

  • QB Bryce Young: Well, he did win the Heisman Trophy. In his first season as a starter, Young passed for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns while completing 66.9 percent of his attempts.
  • LB Will Anderson Jr.: The rare Heisman Trophy candidate as a defensive player. Anderson led the nation in sacks with 17.5 and tackles for loss with 33.5.
  • S Jordan Battle: A first-team All-SEC selection in 2021, Battle had a team-leading three interceptions and posted 85 tackles a year ago.

2022 Schedule

  • Sept. 3 vs. Utah State
  • Sept. 10 at Texas
  • Sept. 17 vs. ULM
  • Sept. 24 vs. Vanderbilt
  • Oct. 1 at Arkansas
  • Oct. 8 vs. Texas A&M
  • Oct. 15 at Tennessee
  • Oct. 22 vs. Mississippi State
  • Nov. 5 at LSU
  • Nov. 12 at Ole Miss
  • Nov. 19 vs. Austin Peay
  • Nov. 26 vs. Auburn
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Saban, Crimson Tide poised to settle unfinished business in 2022

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