Coming off of their fourth National Championship since 2009, Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are looking to reload and make another appearance in the College Football Playoff.
One would think the season after losing 15 starters to the NFL—one of which being the reigning Heisman Trophy winner—that a team would need a year or two to rebuild, right? Wrong. This is something that Nick Saban is all too familiar with.
Although the Crimson Tide’s explosive offense lost a lot of firepower in the running back tandem of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, they are returning many key pieces of the puzzle. Two of which include rising stars Calvin Ridley and OJ Howard. Ridley was an All-SEC Freshman selection as a wide receiver last year, bringing in 89 receptions for 1045 yards and seven TDs. Howard, who had a career game against Clemson in last season’s national championship with 205 yards receiving and two TDs, is widely considered to be one of the premiere tight ends in college football. The only problem is that the lack of clarity at the quarterback position.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) July 13, 2016
However, this is a problem has faced before. As of right now, Coach Saban has said that Cooper Bateman is the current front runner for the position. Whoever is named starter will be the Crimson Tide’s third starter in three years.
When asked about the quarterback uncertainty during the Alabama portion of SEC Media Days, OJ Howard seemed confident in his quarterbacks and their progress.
And when asked about Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin’s ability to work around this quarterback change, Howard had nothing but high praise.
The Crimson Tide also will look to find their next defensive star with key defensive departures in CB Cyrus Jones, LB Reggie Ragland and DTs A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed.
One player that will be looked on to fill in the void that Ragland left behind is Reuben Foster. Foster, a senior, is known for his tenacious hits and leadership on the field. Foster recorded 73 tackles last season and should be able to top that with Ragland’s departure.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) July 12, 2016
One other minor concern for the Crimson Tide is their current offensive line situation. With Ryan Kelly being drafted in the first round and legal trouble surrounding All-SEC OL Cam Robinson, Alabama will look to experienced linemen like Alphonse Taylor and Ross Pierschbacher to hold down the line and protect the QB. Both Taylor and Pierschbacher started all 15 games last season. To go along with this experience is highly coveted JUCO transfer RT Charles Baldwin. Alabama also landed four of the top 35 offensive linemen in the 2016 high school recruiting class.
With talent like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry coming out of the offensive end of Alabama in recent years, who will be their next superstar? Is it going to be players who have already flashed superstar potential like Calvin Ridley or OJ Howard? Or is it going to be a relatively new face like running back Bo Scarbrough?
The same question can be asked on the defensive side of the ball as Coach Saban and the Crimson Tide faithful will look to players like senior Reuben Foster and former five-star DE Da’Shawn Hand to step up on the defensive side of the ball and make some big plays.
With the hardest strength of schedule in the nation, according to teamrankings.com, is Alabama poised to make another run to the National Championship? Only time will tell.
The Alabama Crimson Tide kickoff their season on September 1 against Southern California.