For many years, TideFans.com produced an annual feature called "Coaches to Watch," a discover-them-before-your-neighbors-do article identifying up-and-coming mid-major coaches who might one day be candidates at large schools like Alabama. The feature actually predates TideFans.com itself – the first one rolled off the presses following the 1996 season, when TideFans.com was still BamaNation.com and Dennis Franchione, who made the list, did so from his post not at TCU, but rather New Mexico.
The same Covid-19 virus that wrecked TideFans.com's annual previews is going to have an effect on this analysis of the Missouri-Alabama opener, scheduled for Saturday in Columbia, Mo. As Nick Saban often says, it is what it is. Missouri will come into this game down approximately 10 players. That's 7 players held out for Covid protocol, plus two others opting out and a 10th player out with a “traditional” injury. That number could grow or shrink by the end of the week.
Georgia is coming into town, and while the Bulldogs don't have the kind of dynamic playmaker at quarterback that Ole Miss has in Matt Corral, the Bulldogs have a much better defense, and Alabama likely won't be able to count on matching score for score with the Bullies.
In yet another “2020 thing,” Alabama's matchup with Ole Miss this week depends on the meanderings of a hurricane that some people probably think is named for an airline.
While Alabama has certainly had its fair share of bad outcomes against division rivals LSU and Auburn, one of the more underrated matchups every year in the SEC is watching Alabama take on Texas A&M. Former Aggie QB Johnny Manziel made it that way; prior to Manziel arriving, Alabama seemed to dispatch Texas A&M regularly and without a lot of fanfare. Manziel seemed to reset the cosmos in College Station, and subsequent quarterbacks have tried (mostly in vain, admittedly) to follow in his footsteps.
Tua is in Miami now, so the question becomes whether Alabama leaves the offense in the hands of his 2019 backup, Mac Jones, or goes with the top QB prospect in the 2019-2020 recruiting cycle, Bryce Young.
On one hand, Alabama has frequently had a case of the yips under Nick Saban in the second or third game of the season, which Saturday's game against Ole Miss was. On the other, this is an all-SEC schedule in 2020, without many breaks, so if giving up 48 points and 600-plus total yards of offense to the Rebels qualifies as the “yips,” then Alabama might be in for real trouble in the coming weeks.
For a program accustomed to leading the recruiting rankings and setting records year after year for average class strength, the 2020 class for Alabama was about as ho-hum as top-three/top-four classes can get (TideFans.com/NARCAS ranked Alabama's class in a tie for third with Ohio State, behind No. 2 Clemson and No. 1 Georgia).
By now, everyone has circled Jan. 6 on their calendars, because that's when Alabama junior QB Tua Tagovailoa will publicly announce whether...
Typically at this time of the year, you'd be reading a story either previewing or recapping Alabama's A-Day game, and getting you ready for TideFans.com's annual summer team previews prior to college football heading into fall camps. Things are different in 2020, though. Much different. They are different in Tuscaloosa, in Auburn, in Fayetteville, in Lexington – and very different in places like New York City and Seattle.