Do we have a College Football Playoff National Championship Game rematch headed our way this season? The media seems to think so. SEC Media Days ended on Thursday with Alabama predicted to win the 2018 SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide got 193 votes while Georgia, who got second, had 69 votes. Georgia was selected to win the SEC East and obviously Alabama winning the SEC West. Only six times since 1992 has the predicted champion at SEC Media Days proceeded to win the championship.
What did head coach Nick Saban and company have to say about this year’s team at media days? Here’s a recap of the most important takeaways from the Crimson Tide team.
Quarterbacks, Quarterbacks, Quarterbacks
Unfortunately, there’s nothing much to say on this because the answer is still “no clue.” Coach Saban wanted to shut down all questions on the subject right off the bat.
“And I think the number one thing that you will want to talk about is the quarterback controversy that you’d love to create, that you’ve already created, that you will continue to create, and I will tell you the same thing exists there,” Saban said. “It’s still to be determined as to who is going to play quarterback for Alabama. So you can ask all of the questions about it, but it’s still to be determined.”
Now, Saban did mention the two obvious choices for the position, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. Saban said Tua missed a lot last semester because of his injury, but Hurts had a good spring. The competition is still wide open and comes down to what happens in fall camp.
“Somebody’s got to win the team, and however these guys can help the team, I hope they are both committed to staying and doing that,” Saban said.
Lack of Firepower on Defense
Alabama had a lot of guys leave on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary. Ten players went to the NFL, which means the Crimson Tide are only returning three starters on defense.
Even losing Keith Holcombe to baseball hurt the inside linebacker position a bit. Depth of the defensive line will be in question for this season. However, the big name on defense and probably one of the most experienced guys is Anfernee Jennings.
The redshirt junior linebacker will be back and ready this season after his injury before the Clemson playoff game last season. Jennings is stepping up as a leader this year and wants to help the linebacker group be the best they can be.
“Definitely, our whole group contributes to the team. I think the sky’s the limit for our whole group,” Jennings said. “You just never know, everybody’s working hard.”
We can’t talk about media days without talking about another Alabama player there in Atlanta, Damien Harris. The Crimson Tide are lucky to have the senior running back for another season. Harris has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and could have gone to the NFL. Coach Saban said he knew he would come back for his senior season because he just loves college.
“I love walking down the street in Tuscaloosa and somebody rolling down their windows when they drive by and yelling ‘Roll Tide’,” Harris said. “There are just so many things about being a part of The University of Alabama and living in Tuscaloosa that bring us so much joy as athletes. Coming back for my senior year wasn’t hard.”
Having Harris back gives Alabama great yard-production and a senior leader. With him leading the pack of running backs, there’s no telling what the group can do.
Saban: Not Done Yet
This is Saban’s 17th SEC Media Days and his 12th with Alabama. A big topic during his interviews was: how long will we see Saban in the coaching world? Saban had a simple answer: Mrs. Terry does not want to see him home anytime soon.
“I really enjoy what I’m doing right now, and as long as I’m healthy and I can do it, I’m going to continue to do it and not worry about any numbers or what my age is or anything like that,” Saban said.