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Previews 2016: Alabama Crimson Tide

Previews 2016: Alabama Crimson Tide

Defending national champions once again, Alabama looks even better on paper heading into 2016 than it did before the 2015 season started. But like last year, Alabama must replace key cogs in the machine, most notably quarterback, along with the core of its defense. Attrition that was heavy even by Alabama standards could play a factor in the team’s season outlook.

Five players who need a strong A-Day showing

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Five players who need a strong A-Day showing

With Alabama’s second scrimmage in the books, positions that are up for grabs this spring are slowly coming into focus.

Five players in particular need to post a solid A-Day performance Saturday in order to mark themselves as the starter heading into fall camp. As QB David Cornwell showed last spring, leading (or even being in the mix) at the end of spring isn’t a guarantee of holding onto a job throughout fall camp, but it certainly makes it tougher for other competitors to get a foothold.

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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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ULM Wrap-up: Bama gets its revenge, but did the Tide get better?

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ULM Wrap-up: Bama gets its revenge, but did the Tide get better?

Against an opponent like Louisiana-Monroe, there isn’t much a team like Alabama can do to make the experience a worthwhile endeavor.

Teams like Alabama are expected to win, win big, not struggle, keep everyone healthy, all without showing the next opponent anything of substance. Fail to accomplish one thing from that list and the game is often viewed as a failure, regardless of outcome.

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ULM Preview: Alabama has to set an identity while it still can

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ULM Preview: Alabama has to set an identity while it still can

The last time Louisiana-Monroe visited Bryant-Denny Stadium, the year was 2007 and Nick Saban was in the process of installing “The Process” into the Alabama program. By now, everyone knows what happened: A technically sound and well-coached Louisiana-Monroe squad upset a struggling and largely rudderless Alabama team, which at the time provided a source of great amusement for media across the country, but particularly the media of south Florida.

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Ole Miss preview: Bama will find out whether Rebels are for real

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Ole Miss preview: Bama will find out whether Rebels are for real

The Rebels have now hung 70-plus points on each of its first two opponents, UT-Martin and Fresno State. It wasn’t a surprise in the opener; it was definitely a surprise last week against a Fresno team that is typically well-coached and scrappy. It leaves Alabama asking the question of just how good is Ole Miss, and whether Kelly was the missing piece to Hugh Freeze’s offense this whole time.

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MTSU Preview: Bama looks to improve on the little things

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MTSU Preview: Bama looks to improve on the little things

It’s hard convincing people that a mid-major program like Middle Tennessee State could be a threat to Alabama, especially at this point in the Crimson Tide’s development. MTSU is a recent addition to Conference USA after playing either at lower divisions or in the lowly Sun Belt up to now.

But MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill is a Bobby Bowden disciple, a good recruiter and former assistant at Clemson and South Carolina. His defensive coordinator, Tyrone Nix, has been around for years and also has SEC experience. Offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner is a young assistant to watch, whose experience at Valdosta State and Murray State exposed him to high-flying offenses.

On the other hand, it is not unusual for MTSU to not fill all of its allotted scholarship slots. The Blue Raiders are typically thinner than most teams and try to rely on the newest innovations in offense or defense to corner the element of surprise. Unfortunately, the raw talent level just isn’t there often enough for the Blue Raiders to seal the deal.

Alabama will be using this game to work on fixing the few small issues that cropped up against Wisconsin. Ole Miss comes to town next week, and the Crimson Tide needs to be firing on all cylinders for that one.

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USM preview: Woeful Golden Eagles can’t recapture past magic

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USM preview: Woeful Golden Eagles can’t recapture past magic

There was a time when Southern Miss was a better yearly opponent for Alabama than some SEC teams.

A couple of Alabama-Southern Miss games are noteworthy, for all the wrong reasons. There was the Reggie Collier-led upset of one of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s last Alabama teams. And then there was the 21-0 loss to USM in 2000 that should have been the impetus for firing Mike DuBose.

This Southern Miss team, though, is nothing like those teams.

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FAU wrap-up: Game was short, but fans’ discussion won’t be

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FAU wrap-up: Game was short, but fans’ discussion won’t be

Nick Saban is loved by Alabama fans for many things, not the least of which is his brusque treatment of the media.

But in his post-game press statements following Alabama’s rain-shortened 41-0 romp over Florida Atlantic, he had a message for fans who have a specific favorite in the ongoing battle for Alabama’s quarterback position: Basically, shut up.

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

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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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