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2014 Previews: Which freshmen will play?

2014 Previews: Which freshmen will play?

One of the side effects to consistently signing classes that are stocked top-to-bottom with talent is that it gets difficult to project who will end up playing and who will finish the season with “RS” posted next to his name.

While nothing is certain until fall camp is over, here’s a look at the incoming freshmen and transfer signees on the 2014 Alabama football team, and a quick assessment of which players are most likely to play or not play during the upcoming season.

2014 Previews: Who’s up, who’s down heading into 2014

For the past 16 years, TideFans.com has broken out its crystal ball to select who we thought would be likely to win such awards as SEC Coach of the Year, or which coach would find themselves on the hotseat.

Change is needed from time to time, and this article – we’ll call it our 2014 Emerging Trends analysis – will serve to replace the venerable crystal ball, which has been dropped, cracked and cloudied too many times to be useful anymore.

Instead, each SEC team will get its time under the microscope, and we’ll attempt to offer some insight behind the numbers that will come in future articles as we head towards the start of the regular season.

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Tide 2014: Coker needs a chance, not crushing pressure

When Alabama football officially gets cranked back up for fall practice, the Jacob Coker Watch will start approximately 1 millisecond afterward.

Unfortunately for Coker, the expectations for him, which are already high, will simply continue to snowball over the course of the summer. And if Coker doesn’t come right out of the gate looking like some combination of Joe Namath, Peyton Manning, Y.A. Tittle, an M1A1 Abrams tank and Secretariat, the fan backlash could be the biggest thing since … well, since the last second of the 2013 Auburn game. There is no meltdown like that of an angry Alabama fan.

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Draft recap: A couple of shockers, but mostly what was expected

The problem with draft prospects telling reporters that they’ve “received a second-round grade,” for instance, is that NFL teams blow more smoke than the Marlboro Man in a bowling alley bar.

Along those lines, the results of the 2014 NFL Draft, from an Alabama players’ perspective, went about the way everyone expected. Not every Bama player with a draft grade got drafted, and some fell far below their expected position. With the exception of quarterback A.J. McCarron’s free-fall into the fifth round, and perhaps the fact that Anthony Steen went undrafted, there were no major surprises.

Here’s a recap of Alabama’s draft picks, compared to where TideFans.com projected them in two prior articles.

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A-Day 2014: Vanilla offense sputters, defense takes big step forward

For a fan base that was on the edge of its seats Saturday, watching with great interest the battle at quarterback, A-Day didn’t tell them much. Thanks to A-Day rules which completely remove QB scrambles from the list of possible outcomes – anything wearing a black jersey is considered “sacked” if they so happen to get breathed upon by a defensive lineman – Blake Sims might as well have been a boat anchor. A-Day ended up being a poor barometer of Sims’ skill set, and the quarterback competition is no clearer now than it was prior to the game.

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Draft short-take: Are UA stocks rising or falling?

It may be tax day, but presumptive Alabama draftees are less concerned with taxes and more concerned with stocks.

And we don’t mean of the Dow Jones variety.

Now that pro days have concluded, here’s a brief look at where we projected Alabama’s players a few weeks ago, and whether they’ve done anything to raise or lower their value as draft day approaches.

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Spring analysis: Seven big questions facing the 2014 team

Typically, questions surrounding a Nick Saban-coached program in the spring have to do simply with new starters at positions vacated by seniors who have graduated or underclassmen headed to the NFL Draft.

But the 2014 Alabama team will have a more complex set of questions facing it than simply the shuffling of the depth chart. While position changes are a concern, some questions go much deeper than that.

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ne of college football’s greatest attributes is its pre-programmed turnover. At least every five years, teams are guaranteed to have a completely new starting lineup compared to the ones they fielded five years prior.

For Alabama, there will be 12 positions this season changing hands. But several other positions figure to be up for grabs as well.

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Recruiting: Alabama planning for 2015 with 2014 class choices

While every team suffers losses from one year to the next, the hit to the roster Alabama took following the 2013 season – not just from graduation, but underclassmen opting for early entry into the NFL Draft – looks manageable for 2014.

The real question will be replacing upcoming losses following the 2014 season.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that Alabama could have eight senior starters on its 2014 offense, with another two players virtual locks to leave early for the NFL Draft in April 2015. Running back T.J. Yeldon and wideout Amari Cooper will be juniors in 2014, and if either returns for his senior season, it would be an upset somewhere on par with Louisiana-Monroe winning a rematch of its 2007 game against the Crimson Tide.

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Kiffin hired as Alabama offensive coordinator

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Kiffin hired as Alabama offensive coordinator

Alabama hired former Southern Cal and Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin as its new offensive coordinator Friday, quickly filling the vacancy left when Doug Nussmeier left Alabama for the same job at Michigan.

“We are excited to have Lane join our staff,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban in a statement released by the university. “He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level. He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called. He coaches with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, and also does an excellent job as a teacher. Lane will be an outstanding addition to our coaching staff and we look forward to him and his family joining us at the University of Alabama.”

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