Alabama is once again the favorite to win the National Championship, but they will have to adjust to new offensive and defensive coordinators in Nick Saban’s 12th season as head coach. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will have to choose between junior quarterback Jalen Hurts (6’2, 218) and sophomore signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa (6’1, 218).
Both quarterbacks showed an ability to take care of the football in 2017. Hurts threw just one interception in 254 passing attempts and Tagovailoa had only two in 77 passes. The duo combined for 28 passing touchdowns. No matter who lines up under center, look for Alabama to feature senior running back Damien Harris (5’11, 216). Harris is as consistent as they come, posting back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Defensively, the front seven is led by junior defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (6’7, 306) and linebacker Anfernee Jennings (6’3, 267, Jr.). A position group to keep an eye on this season is the secondary. The Crimson Tide lost four contributors from last season’s team and will have several new faces on the back end. Few teams are better prepared for attrition, but it will have to introduce newcomers on defense and in the coaches’ rooms.
Troy’s player to watch
99 Raekwon Davis 6’7 315 DT-Junior
Alabama routinely wins in the trenches with players like Davis. He has a good combination of strength and athleticism for an interior lineman. For his size, he also plays with good leverage and is adept at bending and twisting to get around interior offensive linemen. The junior defensive tackle is also a technician with his hands, which allows him to blow by slower guards. Last year, he finished with 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
Game of the season
November 24th against Auburn
The Iron Bowl will once again feature the two favorites in the SEC West. Auburn returns 13 starters from last season’s team, which beat Alabama 26-14 at home. Head coach Gus Malzahn is 2-3 all- time against Alabama and will look to even the score versus its in-state rival. Expect a closely-contested game in Tuscaloosa.
DraftNasty’s Prospect Watch:
73 Jonah Williams 6’5 301 LT-Junior
There aren’t many true juniors with the starting experience of Williams. In just two seasons on campus, he’s already earned 29 career starts. By the conclusion of his junior year, he may very well have over 40 starts. His mobility is evident when asked to reach defensive tackles or scoop block versus linebackers. There have been instances where he’s been beaten over the top with outside club moves in pass protection. If the ‘Tide opens up its offense in 2018, Williams may get an opportunity to show off an increased skill-set in pass protection.
As always, games against LSU and Auburn can be tricky for the Crimson Tide to navigate, but DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson is predicting an undefeated regular season for Alabama. The Crimson Tide play Louisville, Citadel and Arkansas State in the non- conference portion of their schedule and won’t have to play Florida or Georgia until a potential match-up in the SEC Championship.