After coming off back-to-back college football national championships, many argue that although Southeastern Conference powerhouse Alabama lost some stars to the 2013 NFL Draft, they’re already a front-runner to win their third-consecutive title.
Alabama finished the 2012 season with an impressive record of 13-1, 7-1 in SEC action and the titles of SEC champions and national champions. The only loss on the season came at the hands of SEC newcomer Texas A&M, who came into Bama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium and pulled out a shocking 29-24 win after going up 20-0 early in the game.
A lackluster spring for the Tide had head coach Nick Saban not pleased with the team, with Saban expressing concern that the team is suffering from post-national championship complacency and getting too comfortable. Saban talked about what the coaches are trying to instill in the team going into the 2013 season.
So does Bama really have a shot at going three-for-three? First, let’s look at who Alabama lost to the NFL. Star cornerback Dee Milliner was selected ninth overall in the first round by the New York Jets. Guard Chance Warmack was taken right after by the Tennessee Titans, and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker was taken 11th overall by the San Diego Chargers. Running back Eddie Lacy went to the Green Bay Packers in the second round. Center Barrett Jones was snatched up by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round, as was inside linebacker Nico Johnson to the Kansas City Chiefs. Defensive tackle Jesse Williams was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round, and defensive end Quinton Dial was selected by the San Francisco 49ers. Finally, tight end Michael Williams was taken in the seventh round by the Detriot Lions.
Saban reflects on the legacy this group has left the Alabama program.
The quarterback group is not very deep for the Tide looking ahead to 2013, but they’re led by one of the most talented and efficient passers in the country right now. A.J. McCarron finished last season looking like the most effective player in the country at his position. Barring injury or any other unforeseen circumstances, rising sophomore T.J. Yeldon rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman last year, and he’ll look to keep confusing defenses for at least the next two years.
Continuing to look on offense, breakout star Amari Cooper came in as a freshman and took over the deep route, solidifying his presence for 2013. Kenny Bell is back, coupled with Kevin Norwood and DeAndrew White. This year is set up to be the best in recent memory for the Alabama offense under new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
On the other side of the ball, Alabama continues to reload at the linebacker position. C.J. Mosley headlines a powerful group that helped the Tide finish with the best defense in the country a year ago. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix is the star for a powerful safety group. Last year, he was effective in the red zone and was a ball hawk in the national title game. Deion Belue is one of the premier lockdown corners for the Tide this fall as Alabama attempts to rebuild its most effective unit from last year. This position group is one that plays well in man, but the way they attack the run is the most impressive thing to watch.
All in all, Alabama is still loaded with talent that could easily go all the way to Pasadena to play for their third title in a row. Games to watch in the 2013 season are September 14 at Texas A&M and November 9 against LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama will open it’s 2013 season in a matchup against Virginia Tech in Atlanta, Ga.