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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.

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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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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Texas, Auburn find they’re still living in an Alabama world

Florida State closed out the BCS era Monday night with a 34-31 victory over Auburn, claiming the last crystal trophy that will be handed out under the current postseason rules.

But even though the Seminoles have 365 days to enjoy their place on the college football throne, one of the first questions raised on ESPN’s postgame show was whether Alabama had passed the mantle of most-targeted program over to FSU permanently.

ESPN contributor Paul Finebaum – who has never met a football topic he wouldn’t use to troll Alabama fans – answered with a firm “yes,” surprising exactly no one. If only that were true.

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Sugar Bowl wrap-up: What will this game mean for Alabama’s future?

By the time Oklahoma recovered the final kickoff – a so-bad-it-was-funny moment that served as the perfect capper to the 2014 Sugar Bowl – the time for mulling over what might have been was long gone.

For the second time in six years, Alabama laid an egg in the Sugar Bowl to an inferior team. But in that regard, the 2014 game was at least an improvement over the 2009 Sugar Bowl, since Oklahoma, unlike Utah, was a worthy opponent.

Twice now under Nick Saban, Alabama has lost a title shot after Thanksgiving and ended up in New Orleans playing for pride. Both times, the results left Alabama fans wondering whether anyone on the team seemed to care.

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Sugar Bowl preview: Tide must ignore waves of disappointment to beat Sooners

The 2008 Crimson Tide team opened the season with 12 straight victories, only to lose a potential national title shot at the hands of Florida and quarterback Tim Tebow in the SEC Championship Game. While Alabama was admittedly ahead of schedule in even getting to the game in the first place, the loss was still a bitter pill and served as motivation for the entire 2009 year. Highlights of the 2009 SEC Championship Game, for instance, make their appearance in Alabama’s pregame video under the headline “Redemption.”

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Saban, UA announce extension; Saban says will end career at Alabama

Alabama and head coach Nick Saban formally announced a contract extension Friday that will keep Saban in Tuscaloosa until the end of his career, the coach announced.

“This agreement allows us to continue to build on the tremendous success that we have enjoyed to this point, successes that have transcended the football field,” said Saban in a statement released by the school. “We are excited about the future and the University of Alabama is where I plan to end my coaching career.”

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