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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 3 Alabama

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron throws on the run in front of LSU Tigers cornerback Ron Brooks during their NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in New Orleans AP

2011 record: 12-1 overall, 7-1 in SEC (2nd in West)

2011 postseason: BcS title game (21-0 win over LSU)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 1/No. 1

Head coach: Nick Saban (146-56-1 overall; 55-12 in five seasons at Alabama)

Offensive coordinator: Doug Nussmeier (first season)

2011 offensive rankings: No. 16 rushing offense (214.5 ypg); 69th passing offense (215.1 ypg); 31st total offense (429.6 ypg); No. 20 scoring offense (34.8 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: seven

Defensive coordinator: Kirby Smart (sixth season at Alabama, fifth as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: No. 1 rushing defense (72.1 ypg); No. 1 passing defense (111.5 ypg); No. 1 total defense (183.6 ypg); No. 1 scoring defense (8.1 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: four

Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Stadium: Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821; grass)

Last league title: 2009

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
Nick Saban’s a lot of things (insert various one-liners at your leisure), but he’s not someone who allows himself, his coaching staff or his players to make the same mistake again.  Coming off its BcS title following the 2009 regular season, the Tide consistently stubbed its toe on the way to a three-loss post-crystal season in 2010.  Coming off its second title in three years, Saban’s determined to keep a repeat of 2010 from happening again in 2012.  Could it happen again?  Of course, anything’s possible.  But, in the case, I wouldn’t bet on history repeating itself.

The Bad
If the Tide does party like it’s 2010, however, it will likely be because of a defense that led the country in nearly every major statistical in the run to another BcS title last season.  Gone from that suffocating defense are seven starters, including its top three tacklers and four of the top five total; its top two tackles-for-loss producers; and two of the three leaders in sacks.  Certainly, thanks to the bounty that is recruiting, there is plenty of on-paper talent that can fill the depth chart.  How fast those replacements can actually fill the sizable shoes left in the wake of departures, though, will determine whether a third title in four years is in the offing.

The Unknown
The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball impacted by departures.  The loss of running back Trent Richardson will certainly affect an offense that will be under the direction of a new coordinator — former Washington OC Doug Nussmeier.  While there’s plenty of talent in the backfield — starter Eddie Lacy and backups Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart and T.J. Yeldon — the addition of the pass-leaning Nussmeier could be a signal that Saban is ready to put more responsibility on the right shoulder of AJ McCarron.  The starting quarterback proved last season that he was more than capable of handling the responsibilities in a balanced offensive attack; if called upon — and that’s a big coaching if right now — can he handle a bigger responsibility in the passing game?  Stay tuned …

Make-or-break game: at LSU, Nov. 3
No offense to Arkansas or new SEC member Missouri or even non-conference foe Michigan, the game on both of these team’s schedules this season is a rematch of the BcS title game.  And the field-goal-laden regular season game that cost the Tide a shot at an SEC title.  Much like with the USC-Oregon game the same day, this contest has the potential to feature a pair of unbeaten, Top 5 teams if the schedule plays out as expected, although in this case it will likely determine which team represents its division in the conference championship game.  The bad news for the Tide is the fact that they will have to travel to Death Valley, a place where the Tide has won just once in its last four attempts.

Heisman hopeful: quarterback AJ McCarron
Should Saban decide to put more emphasis on the passing game, and should the Tide perform up to its preseason expectations, McCarron should at least merit considerations on the fringes of the Heisman discussion early on in the season.  In his first season as a starter last year McCarron completed nearly 67 percent of his passes, throwing for over 2,600 yards, 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions, finishing third in the SEC in passing efficiency.  With even a slight bump statistically, McCarron will likely find himself in the Heisman mix.

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7 Responses to “CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 3 Alabama”
  1. southernpatriots says: Aug 8, 2012 4:40 PM

    Just as the motivation advantage was with the Tide in the BCS NCG in New Orleans after the Tigers beat them at their home, the motivation advantage will strongly be with LSU in this upcoming yearly rematch in Baton Rouge. LSU coaches and players alike will be greatly motivated to make needed changes and bring about a different outcome in Death Valley. It is THE GAME all LSU fans are looking forward to for the season, not that any are overlooking any SEC opponents which on any given night…as has happened many times.

    Best line: “The bad news for the Tide is the fact that they will have to travel to Death Valley, a place where the Tide has won just once in its last four attempts.”

  2. neauxgeaux44 says: Aug 8, 2012 5:48 PM

    For lack of anything else to listen to on the radio, i caught the paul not so finebaum show …..is everyone in Alabammy an illiterate redneck where their life is all about roll tide roll….how pathetic…i guess I now know who keeps Jerry springer’s ratings up….and buys trailers….geaux tigers….

  3. sweepthleg says: Aug 8, 2012 8:07 PM

    You live in Louisiana and you are actually making fun of Alabama?

    Learn to build a road that doesn’t suck then get back to us!

    Also, have you watched the History Channel lately? Not exactly showing the Whatever State in the greatest light.

    Exactly how did you get on the internet? Drive to a progressive state like Mississippi.

  4. tigersgeaux says: Aug 9, 2012 9:54 AM

    sweepthleg:

    I have nothing against Alabama. Some of my best friends were born there and lived and worked in Huntsville, Mobile, and Birmingham. I loved going and helping during the horrid tornado destruction through Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and northeastern Alabama.

    You appear too defensive and touchy.

    There are no bad roads anywhere where I live in Louisiana…of course, there are not many roads…everyone knows we all travel by pirogue or bateau and we only eat alligator, snapping turtles, and bigots.

    Louisiana was governed from about the time of the Louisiana Purchase to recent years by one party–the Democrat Party. They operated as “the best politics money could buy.”

    These state and local politicians stole millions and even billions of dollars intended to build roads, levees, and other infrastructure and died before they could be prosecuted. Several leaders were prosecuted and one of our most famous recent governors just was released from his lengthy stint in federal prison. We are working hard to overcome the mismanagement and larceny by our state and local officials until the past few years.

    I have satellite Internet connection on my laptop. What kind of connection do you have? I work as a supervisor and petroleum engineer in one of the largest oil refineries in the world to put American refined gasoline into your vehicles, what do you do? My spare time is spent volunteering for my regional food bank and helping with the Neighborhood Watch established across the state by southernpatriots’ family and friends.

  5. rsmeans says: Aug 10, 2012 9:20 AM

    Alabama has done quite well in Baton Rouge historically with a 27-9 record which is much better than in Tuscaloosa where the record is 10-10. Saban is 1-1 in Baton Rouge and 1-2 in Tuscaloosa against LSU. Anyway you look at it the game is a toss up with the winner most likely winning the NC.

  6. lasseter1113 says: Aug 11, 2012 11:41 AM

    @tigersgeaux – You should go back and read your comment and you will see that you too are being “Defensive and Touchy” LSU fans love to attack us Alabamians, not hardly a single article on CFT about Alabama that one of you guys is not calling us rednecks and making fun of our state. All Sweepthleg was doing was retaliating to that nasty comment neauxgeaux44 left. Now I didn’t see you jumping all over his butt for his derogatory remarks. There seem to be more LSU fans on Alabama articles these days than there are Bama fans. I’m sure both of our states our just fine. It is stupid to let something like football make you look like a complete and utter bigoted jack ass. I just wish people on here would grow up and act their age. Good luck to both of our teams during the coming season.

  7. tigersgeaux says: Aug 11, 2012 12:33 PM

    lasseter1113: I don’t why there appears to be more LSU fans commenting than Bama ones, last season there were far more Bama fans calling our coach an idiot or not bright or us coon-a$$es or anything they could think of. Maybe neauxgeaux44 is remembering those days? I don’t know. Though we have at least some connection to UA through our shared coach, when Bama fans comment on LSU stories and blogs which they do here and everywhere we have seen, do you object?

    I will take the time now to tell neauxgeaux44 to not disparage Bama residents or fans. It not funny when Louisiana residents and LSU fans are stereotyped and it is not funny when Alabama residents and fans are stereotyped. YOU lasseter1113 are quite correct.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    neauxgeaux44: Please do not disparage fans of the Crimson Tide or Alabama residents with stereotypes or similar descriptions.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    But there is one poster who claims to be a great devotee of Bama and posts lies against alligatorsnapper and I, even more flagrant blasphemies against southernpatriots and at least us three posters have never posted anything derogatory against Bama, just referred to some truth of how Saban acted toward players and media while he lived in Baton Rouge and coached the LSU Tigers or in Miami when he coached the Dolphins.

    Southernpatriots does not even know more than 2 posters here in CFT in person, myself and alligatorsnapper, since we helped the southernpatriots’ doctor and nurses and family members with their Appalachian Outreach and subsequently with the aftermath after the tornadoes hit Alabama, etc.

    But this woman can attack southernpatriots. She accused sp of “gang banging” her which is the most profane and vulgar false accusation she could bring. Her accusation is a lie whether her posting is interpreted to literal or figurative. Where were you to correct this spiteful and bitter vixen? Did you speak up or post anything telling her to stop the personal attacks against alligatorsnapper, myself tigersgeaux or against southernpatriots? If so, I stand corrected, but I am almost positive you did not.

    I wish you well and I wish the Crimson Tide the very best and that all the players stay healthy and avoid any serious injuries. I wish them well until they play LSU and then I hope LSU beats their rears. (come on now, I try to be fair, but I am a partisan LSU fan!) I wish the Tide not to have to face the loss of their best player due to his poor decisions.

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