As word broke Tuesday that Alabama would basically be without its running back group for the first half of Saturday's game against the Duke Blue Devils, there was concern that David Cutcliffe's band of upset specialists might be able to do the impossible against the best team in college football.
Disclaimer: This is not an official University of Alabama document. The depth chart is taken from individual practice and game observations, and...
We got a head start on our Week 1 previews for 2019 thanks to the Florida Gators, who came very close to our predicted score of 27-23 over Miami, eventually winning 24-20 in a sloppy game. What follows is the rest of the SEC's first week, which is mostly a snoozefest compared to some recent seasons.
Ole Miss: If Matt Luke hadn't pulled a solid recruiting class out of his hat, we'd be talking about the long-term, impending hibernation of the Black Bear program. Miss State: The schedule isn't terrible, but there is quality near the top of it and if the Bulldogs are slow to advance with new players, it could be a long season; TAMU: Somehow, with this defense, Texas A&M is being picked by some analysts to upset Alabama and LSU and win the SEC West. We're not sure where that kind of logic is coming from
Arkansas: Now the question is the same for Morris as it was for Bielema, Houston Nutt and countless others at Arkansas: Can he recruit well enough to be competitive in the cutthroat SEC West? Auburn: Basically, the fate of the 2019 Auburn Tigers comes down to the quarterback. LSU: With the exception of Alabama, no team in the SEC West looks better than this one, or at least not more complete.
As usual, Missouri has a lot of talent in some places and not nearly enough in others; Much of the Gamecocks' immediate future rides on the right shoulder of Jake Bentley, but he'll need to get more consistent if South Carolina wants to contend; There may not be a more dire and desperate situation than the one at Tennessee. Once one of the SEC's bedrock powers, the Volunteers have fallen into a consistent state of being an also-ran; The Commodores have made a habit of punching above their weight, and they'll need to do it again to avoid a losing season.
The Gators are still learning how to be Gators again after several years of wandering in the wilderness; Georgia continues to get better thanks to Smart's recruiting prowess, but at some point, results are going to matter; This is a rebuilding year, and unfortunately for Kentucky, the Wildcats didn't bring in enough blue-chip playmakers in February to counter the losses to graduation and the NFL.
It's a new day for Alabama – somewhat. Nick Saban has brought back one-time, one-game offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to oversee what many believe will be a return to the offense of 2017, based more in power and vertical passing than last year's RPO-heavy, spread-forward attack. The RPOs will still be here, and so will the spread elements and the option elements, but Alabama football's identity is tough defense and a downhill running game. It wasn't lost on Saban that Clemson took the physical fight to Alabama in the College Football Championship – and won.
As the number of expert (and not-so-expert) opinions available on the internet has exploded over the past 20 years, what has been lacking in many of those prognostications is objective data of any sort. While ranking the strength of all position units at this point in the preseason demands some degree of subjective judgment, TideFans.com continues to do its best to add some hard numbers to the mix.
Clemson: There's no longer a question about the program; now it's just a matter of replacing pieces; Alabama: The offense will be dynamic; the defense is rebuilding. We're still not sure what this team is.