It is unusual how one sport modified all the things for an Alabama group that was beforehand undefeated and thought of by many to be among the many better of all time.
However give credit score to Clemson. It not solely dominated Alabama within the nationwide championship sport, it modified the whole narrative concerning the Crimson Tide’s season within the course of. Out of the blue quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was a mere mortal, the protection was an undisciplined mess and the teaching workers appeared in determined want of reconstruction.
Then a school-record seven underclassmen declared for the NFL draft.
Then seemingly each assistant coach on the workers up and left.
Nick Saban stays, as do Alabama’s championship aspirations, however the tone of the offseason was set within the aftermath of its lopsided loss to Clemson. It is considered one of upheaval. There’s apparent expertise remaining in Tuscaloosa, but in addition apparent turmoil.
2018 report: 14-1 (9-Zero SEC)
Spring observe begins: TBD
Spring sport: April 13
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returns for Alabama in what needs to be a robust offense once more. Wesley Hitt/Getty Pictures
Largest offseason place battle
Somebody goes to should step up and change into the signal-caller of the protection. Linebacker Mack Wilson, who appeared to wrestle on the Mike place at occasions final season, left early for the NFL. So does the uber-talented Dylan Moses slide over from the opposite inside linebacker spot and assume the function? Or will rising sophomore Ale Kaho develop in time? Redshirt sophomore Markail Benton may very well be one other title to look at.
Spring storyline to look at: Is the protection championship caliber?
For those who return and have a look at the second half of the Orange Bowl towards Oklahoma and the nationwide title sport towards Clemson, you need to surprise what occurred to the protection. Too usually it was out of place or flat-out misplaced. And now that coordinator Tosh Lupoi and half of its starters have moved on to the NFL, questions stay. We have already addressed the Mike linebacker place, but it surely’s not simply that. Two-thirds of the defensive position needs to be changed with Isaiah Buggs and Quinnen Williams gone. The secondary must be reworked with security Deionte Thompson and cornerback Saivion Smith gone, and the pass-rush should enhance with out Christian Miller, who graduated. The excellent news is that new defensive coordinator Pete Golding will present continuity by way of play-calling and there are some good items already in place while you issue within the return of defensive lineman Raekwon Davis, security Xavier McKinney and linebacker Anfernee Jennings. If Terrell Lewis comes again from harm near 100 %, he may very well be probably the greatest pass-rushers within the SEC.
Energy heading into spring: Offensive firepower
The choice to carry again Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator raised some eyebrows, however the truth of the matter is that Alabama goes to attain factors no matter who’s in cost. When you will have the type of talent gamers coming again that it does, will probably be exhausting to not. It begins with Tagovailoa, after all, however remember that his high 4 receivers all return as properly, together with Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy. Operating backs Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs are gone, however that simply means it is Najee Harris’ flip to lastly step into the highlight.
Largest query heading into spring: Teaching turnover
Umm, who’re all these coaches once more? Saban is vaguely acquainted, however his supporting solid is nearly completely unrecognizable for the second straight 12 months. For those who thought final 12 months was unhealthy with six new additions to the workers, Saban went a step additional this offseason and located seven new coaches so as to add to the combo. There’s Sarkisian, Charles Huff, Holmon Wiggins and Kyle Flood on offense, and Sal Sunseri, Brian Baker and Charles Kelly on protection. For those who’re trying on the intense aspect, there could be a greater mixture of youth and expertise in comparison with final 12 months. However this type of upheaval in back-to-back seasons may trigger instability in this system total.
Due to the switch of Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley are shifting up within the Manner-Too-Early Prime 25.
Nationwide championship contenders do not rebuild, they reload. Try how every Prime 25 group has used recruiting and the switch market to replenish expertise this offseason.
Prompt-impact additions: OL Pierce Fast & Evan Neal
We’ll cut up the distinction and lay declare to each early enrollee offensive tackles Pierce Fast and Evan Neal. You have to suppose that between the 2 five-star prospects, there is a good likelihood no less than one will emerge as a attainable substitute for Jonah Williams. It could actually match the Alabama mould underneath Saban, which noticed Williams, Cam Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio all play as freshmen and begin a number of seasons earlier than shifting on the NFL.
2019 sport to get enthusiastic about now: Oct. 12 at Texas A&M
It is going to be a ready sport till Alabama goes to Texas A&M on Oct. 12. As a result of, let’s face it, all the things earlier than then seems to be a cakewalk. Duke, which appeared like an honest season opener a couple of years in the past, is gutted with its beginning quarterback and receivers gone. New Mexico State and Southern Miss aren’t compelling out-of-conference attracts, both. And with all due respect to South Carolina and Ole Miss, neither SEC foe appears able to giving Alabama a scare. So we’ll have to carry out for a mid-October journey to Kyle Subject the place Saban will meet his former protege, Jimbo Fisher, who already has one championship underneath his belt at Florida State and is decided to take Texas A&M to the identical lofty heights.