'Bama Still King ... If It Finds A QB
Alabama is coming off a disappointing 11-2 record last season, including defeats to rival Auburn and Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. And yes, I said disappointing.
The Crimson Tide continue to have high expectations and they have every right to do so. With a legendary coach in Nick Saban and the top-ranked recruiting class according to Rivals for the last three years, Alabama will once again be in the hunt for the national title. But why are they not considered the favorite?
Reason No. 1: The Quarterback Race
AJ McCarron is gone, headed to the NFL Draft, so the spot as starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide is up for grabs. For an offense with an arsenal of weapons, a lack of a quarterback set in stone reduces some of the confidence. Without a quarterback Alabama can't maximize that talent.
Blake Sims and Jacob Coker are the main men fighting for the job. Coker is considered the favorite even though he has yet to take a snap for Alabama, even in practice. Coker decided to transfer from Florida State after losing the quarterback battle against Jameis Winston last season. He is going to win this battle against Sims and I am extremely confident he'll make a name for himself.
Reason No. 2: The SEC West
The SEC West is loaded this year with Auburn returning as the defending champion, Texas A&M evolving after another touted recruiting class and LSU “reloading.” Mississippi State has the most experienced quarterback in Dak Prescott and Ole Miss has some top-end talent. The Mississippi teams should not be taken lightly this year. I also see Arkansas as the darkhorse of the SEC West with a young team that should have a talented run game in coach Bret Bielema's second season.
The division is at an all-time high in competitiveness and I expect a lot of close/difficult games for the Crimson Tide next season.
'Bama Still King In SEC West, With Caveats
These two reasons will test this Alabama team, but I expect them to be prepared. Alabama players are bred to be winners. Saban and his coaching staff are godly when it comes to earning victories. They push their players as hard as they can, and the players are mentally and physically prepared to dominate.
I still believe the Tide will be the king of the SEC. That’s if they have a quarterback. If Coker (whom I believe will be the starter) can come in and do what he is there to do, Alabama will be fine.
All Coker must do is limit his mistakes and make smart decisions. He does not have to be the big playmaker. All he has to do is not turn the ball over and find the open man. This team has enough talent on the roster to make things happen. He needs to manage this team and keep them under control.
I expect Alabama to finish the regular season 10-2, losing a couple close ones late in the season. I think with a young quarterback they are bound to drop one or two games.
But if Coker does not perform at a high level, Alabama could lose four games, and that will not sit well with the Tide faithful. Saban could catch some heat and it certainly would cause drama within the program. A four-loss season is the absolute worst possible scenario. I don't see it, but it has to be stated as a possibility.
Or Alabama could continue to be the powerhouse that the country has become accustomed to. But don't be surprised if the Crimson Tide dynasty begins to tumble this fall.