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CSU preview: Tide needs to get fast start, then sit starters

CSU preview: Tide needs to get fast start, then sit starters

It’s no mystery why Alabama scheduled Charleston Southern here. The Buccaneers’ offense makes a good analog for the Auburn offense Alabama will see a week from now. The Bucs are a quality opponent without being a real threat. If Alabama does mope around too much in this game, it could be a repeat of 2011, when the Crimson Tide let then-FCS Georgia Southern hang around almost too long, in a game that could have cost Bama a repeat shot at LSU had voters been turned off by the Tide’s performance. Ultimately, the goal is to get to the Auburn game with no further injuries, and with a convincing win in Alabama’s back pocket.

Tennessee preview: Vols could be a tougher foe than Bama expects

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Tennessee preview: Vols could be a tougher foe than Bama expects

Every season, one or two teams seem to rise above their typical watermarks and give Alabama a tougher game than it would otherwise appear on paper.

Alabama is hoping Ole Miss filled the role in Week 3, but in 2009, that team was Tennessee, then led by a young head coach named Lane Kiffin. It took two blocked field goals by DT Terrence Cody, the second coming as time ran out, for Alabama to hold onto the win and eventually play for a national championship.

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Texas A&M wrap-up: Bama’s defense lowers the boom on Aggies

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Texas A&M wrap-up: Bama’s defense lowers the boom on Aggies

If Alabama is going to make a run at a national championship, one of the things that must happen for the Crimson Tide has undeniably begun to happen the last two or three weeks: The defense is getting incrementally better every game.

Alabama traded the I-formation offenses of Georgia and Arkansas for Texas A&M’s high-flying spread attack Saturday, and held it to 16 points of production. The Aggie rushing attack – which wasn’t spectacular by any means coming in but was nonetheless respectable – was completely shut down. Alabama’s defensive line lived in the Aggie backfield, quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray were mercilessly harassed, and Alabama’s secondary put on a performance for the ages.

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Texas A&M preview: Improving defense, explosive offense gives Aggies a chance

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Texas A&M preview: Improving defense, explosive offense gives Aggies a chance

Over its first few seasons after joining the SEC, Texas A&M felt like a jigsaw puzzle missing a couple of pieces.

The Aggies found those missing pieces after they hired John Chavis, the former Tennessee and LSU defensive coordinator, to coach them at the same position. Chavis immediately brought a toughness to the job that the Aggies had been lacking. Although Texas A&M is far from a defensive powerhouse in 2015, the improvement is noticeable, and more is expected in the future.

Alabama enters this game coming off its second physical test in a row. Alabama has beaten Georgia and Arkansas in successive weeks, and now must face the high-powered spread attack brought by Texas A&M. With rival Tennessee coming to Tuscaloosa the week after this game, many Alabama fans are worried that this contest has all the makings of a textbook trap game and upset.

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks may not have the horses to win this one

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks may not have the horses to win this one

It is easy to dismiss Arkansas as “Georgia Lite” given the Razorbacks’ offensive tendencies, but Arkansas has frequently been a tough out for Alabama. So much so, in fact, that Alabama needs to avoid falling into the trap posed by this direct-from-central-casting “trap game.”

In 2014, Arkansas took Alabama to the wire before the Crimson Tide eventually won, 14-13. It was the game that the Alabama coaches used to eventually define the 2014 squad, and it also marked the last game QB Blake Sims really struggled to get through. In 2015, Alabama gets the Hogs a week after rolling around like a bunch of hogs in the Georgia mud. Fortunately for Alabama, the fourth quarter of its win over Georgia was little more than a mutual slap-fest, as prescribed by the stunningly poor weather conditions.

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Previews 2014: Alabama Crimson Tide

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Previews 2014: Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama is one of the most interesting teams in college football in 2014, if for no other reason that a team one play away from a possible shot at a national championship, returning a nucleus of top talent and poised for yet another title run, is actually a team in transition. A new offensive coordinator is in town, the quarterback position is completely up in the air and changes are expected on the defensive side of the ball to correct a downward trend, particularly in front seven performance.

OFFENSE

Alabama is now the employer of one Lane Kiffin, former Tennessee head coach, NCAA scofflaw and general spoiled brat. At least that’s what he’s been in the eyes of Alabama fans until now. These days, he’s the hopeful savior of Alabama’s balanced, but ground-oriented offensive attack built around the idea that beating an opponent into a bloody coma is the pinnacle of college football strategy. But the ultimate determiner of style may be decided by which quarterback wins the starting job.

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2014 Previews: Which freshmen will play?

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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.

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Recruiting: Alabama planning for 2015 with 2014 class choices

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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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