#1 Alabama Football 2017 Preview


Alabama Crimson Tide


Overall Rank: #1

#1 SEC

Despite winning 14 games, Alabama had a disappointing 2016 season. The Crimson Tide expect to win the national championship every year. And last year they fell agonizingly short in a 35-31 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff Championship game. And while Alabama has a few questions to answer and some team will step up and emerge as a contender to the Crimson Tide, but for now, once again, Alabama is the team to beat.
2016 Record: 14-1, 8-0
2016 Bowl: Peach Bowl vs. Washington (W 24-7) National Championship Game vs. Clemson (L 31-35)
Coach: Nick Saban (119-19 at Alabama, 205-81-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Daboll
Defensive Coordinator: Jeremy Pruitt
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Damien Harris, RB, 1,037 yards
Passing: Jalen Hurts, QB, 2,780 yards
Receiving: Calvin Ridley, WR, 769 yards
Tackles: Ronnie Harrison, S, 86
Sacks: Rashaan Evans, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, 6
Other Key Returnees: RB Bo Scarbrough, LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, CB Anthony Averett, DL Da’Ron Payne, DE Da’Shawn Hand, P J.K. Scott
Key Losses: WR ArDarius Stewart, TE OJ Howard, OL Cam Robinson, DL Jonathan Allen, LB Ruben Foster, LB Ryan Anderson, CB Marlon Humphrey
Quarterback Jalen Hurts becomes the first Alabama starting quarterback returning since A.J. McCarron in 2013. Last season he threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 954 yards and 13 more scores. With Hurts leading the way, Alabama led the SEC in scoring with 38.8 points per game. The passing game could certainly get better though and it should with Hurts gaining some valuable experience last season. Without receiver ArDarius Stewart and tight end O.J. Howard though, it may take some time for the passing game to come around. Calvin Ridley is an experienced pass catcher after leading the team with 72 receptions last season. Of course, the Tide has plenty of talented players ready to step into the other roles. Alabama will rely quite heavily on their ground game. Damien Harris returns after rushing for 1,037 yards and Bo Scarbrough had a great SEC Championship game and Peach Bowl before an injury sidelined him during the national title game.
The amount of talent lost on the defensive side of the ball is incredible. Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson, Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson, Tim Williams, Marlon Humphrey and Eddie Jackson are all gone. That sounds like a decent NFL defense, yet Coach Saban will still put up one of the nation’s best units again in 2017. Da’Ron Payne and Da’Shawn Hand will lead the line and youngsters like redshirt freshman Quinnen Williams are brimming with potential. Seniors Shaun Dion Hamilton and Rashaan Evans form an experienced duo at inside linebacker. Alabama will be younger on the outside, but Christian Miller, Terrell Hall and Anfernee Jennings all gained some valuable experience last season. The secondary returns starters Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Harrison and Anthony Averett. Fitzpatrick, an All-American, will move back to safety. Wherever he is, he will be one of the best players on the field.
The Bottom Line:
Alabama will once again reload. There is a ton of talent that has been waiting behind more experienced players. And there is even more talent coming into the program. Alabama kicks off the season with a bang against Florida State in Atlanta. Following that contest, the Tide may not be seriously tested again until November. That is when they host LSU and travel to Auburn. Any loss for Alabama is an upset and Alabama usually gets the job done and 2017 will be no different. Until proven otherwise, this is the team to beat.
Projected Bowl: Sugar Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 245.0 (12th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 210.3 (87, 8)
Total Offense: 455.3 (34, 4)
Scoring Offense: 38.8 (16, 1)
Rushing Defense: 63.9 (1, 1)
Pass Defense: 197.9 (24, 4)
Total Defense: 261.8 (2, 1)
Scoring Defense: 13.0 (1, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.67 (17, 1)
Sacks: 3.60 (3, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.60 (35, 5)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#9        Da'Shawn Hand
#10      Minkah Fitzpatrick
#15      Calvin Ridley 
#44      Ronnie Harrison
#59      Bo Scarbrough
#68      Da'ron Payne  
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#1        Najee Harris
#5        Alex Leatherwood
#10      Dylan Moses
#24      Jerry Jeudy
#30      Jedrick Wills
#31      LaBryan Ray
#39      Tua Tagovailoa
#47      DeVonta Smith
#56      Xavier McKinney
#62      Phidarian Mathis
#64      VanDarius Cowan
#101    Daniel Wright
#102    Chris Allen
#117    Brian Robinson
#139    Markail Benton
#145    Henry Ruggs  
#146    Jarez Parks
#159    Tyrell Shavers
#206    Mac Jones