#3 Alabama Football 2012 Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide

Overall Rank: #3
#2 SEC
Alabama College Football 2012 Team Preview
Alabama Team Page


Alabama wrapped up the 2011 campaign with a convincing victory over LSU in the BCS National Championship game. The Crimson Tide’s dominating defense allowed a mere 8.15 points per game last season and that was 8.15 more points than LSU scored in the national title game. Coach Nick Saban has a little retooling to do on both sides of the ball, but this is an Alabama team that has more than enough talent to aim for another BCS title.

2011 Record: (12-1, 7-1)
2011 Bowl: BCS National Championship vs. LSU (W 21-0)
Coach: Nick Saban (55-12 at Alabama, 146-54-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Doug Nussmeier
Defensive Coordinator: Kirby Smart

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Eddie Lacy, RB, 674 yards
Passing: A.J. McCarron, QB, 2,634 yards
Receiving: Kenny Bell, WR, 255 yards
Tackles: Nico Johnson, LB, 47
Sacks: C.J. Mosley, LB, 2.0
Interceptions: Dee Milliner, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: OT D.J. Fluker, C Barrett Jones, S Robert Lester, DE Damion Square, S Vinnie Sunseri, G Anthony Steen, G Chance Warmack, DT Jesse Williams

Key Losses: S Mark Barron, LB Dont’a Hightower, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, WR Marquis Maze, CB DeQuan Menzie, RB Trent Richardson, LB Courtney Upshaw, C William Vlachos

Despite the loss of some very notable defensive players, this is still Alabama and they will still have one of the best defenses in the nation, if not the best in the nation. Dont’a Hightower, Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw and Dre Kirkpatrick may be off in the NFL, but this is program loaded with talent. It all starts up front with nose tackle Jesse Williams. With Williams taking up so much space in the middle, it gives the linebackers room to get to the quarterback. Williams will be flanked by ends Damion Square and Ed Stinson who have more than enough experience to have big seasons. But the major beneficiaries of the front three are sophomore linebackers Xzavier Dickson and Adrian Hubbard. Those two did not play much last season, but they are ready to play a much larger role. With starting linebackers C.J. Mosley and Nico Johnson returning as the more experienced linebackers, this group will not miss Hightower and Upshaw for long. The secondary may lose even more talent, but Robert Lester is back to lead the way. Lester tallied two interceptions in 2011, but garnered eight in 2010. Vinnie Sunseri will replace Barron at the free safety spot. Cornerback may appear to be a weak spot in an otherwise superb defense, but Dee Milliner, Deion Belue, John Fulton and Travell Dixon and Travell Dixon are more than capable of replacing Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie..

The skill positions lack experience at many spots, but A.J. McCarron is back to lead the way. The junior quarterback threw for 2,634 yards and 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions as a sophomore. McCarron may not be a big playmaker, but he is a smart quarterback who does what Alabama needs him to do. McCarron tried to air things out a bit during the spring with mixed results. He will not do that as much when it matters, but that will also be partly due to the fact that there is major inexperience at the wide receiver spot. Kenny Bell is the team’s most experienced receiver and Ohio State transfer Duron Carter should make a big impact as well. Kevin Norwood only played in five games last year, but he is another talented option. But replacing the receivers is not the real issue for the offense; replacing Trent Richardson and his 1,679 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns is the bigger story. Eddie Lacy is the next in line, but Coach Saban will also look to bruising back Jalston Fowler and freshmen T.J. Yeldon and Dee Hart. Yeldon made a name for himself during the spring game and the Tide will likely run at least two or three backs on a regular basis.

The Bottom Line:
Just about any running back could have a good year behind Alabama’s offensive line. Center William Vlachos is gone, but Barrett Jones will slide over to the center spot. Tackle D.J. Fluker and guards Anthony Steen and Chance Warmack are all back in the starting lineup. Cyrus Kouandjio is expected to step into the left tackle spot. Kouandijo was largely considered the best tackle in his class a couple years back. Again this is another case of Alabama reloading and there will be plenty of examples of that on both sides of the ball as some relatively unfamiliar names become players that lead Alabama back towards another national title run.

Projected Bowl: Sugar Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 214.46 (16th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 215.15 (69, 4)
Total Offense: 429.62 (31, 2)
Scoring Offense: 34.85 (20, 3)
Rushing Defense: 72.15 (1, 1)
Pass Defense: 111.46 (1, 1)
Total Defense: 183.62 (1, 1)
Scoring Defense: 8.15 (1, 1)
Turnover Margin: .62 (23, 2)
Sacks: 2.31 (29, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (26, 2)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#3 D.J. Fluker
#10 Barrett Jones
#26 Dee Milliner
#31 Robert Lester
#40 C.J. Mosley
#59 Chance Warmack
#63 Nico Johnson
#67 Jesse Williams

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#6 Landon Collins
#13 Eddie Williams
#26 T.J. Yeldon
#39 Cyrus Jones
#41 Chris Black
#45 Reggie Ragland
#46 Amari Cooper
#56 Geno Smith
#78 Ryan Anderson
#104 Dillon Lee
#115 Tyler Hayes
#120 Brandon Greene
#131 Kenyan Drake
#140 Denzel Devall
#177 Korren Kirven
#200 Dalvin Tomlinson