2008 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Preview
Alabama 2007 Record: (7-6, 4-4 SEC)
2007 Bowl: Independence Bowl vs. Colorado (W 30-24)
Alabama Head Coach: Nick Saban (7-6 at Alabama, 98-41-1 overall)
Defensive Coordinator: Kirby Smart
Returning Leaders for Alabama:
Other Key Returnees: OT Antoine Caldwell, DE Brandon Deaderick, LB Ezekial Knight, LB Rolando McClain, WR Mike McCoy, OT Andre Smith, TE Nick Walker
Key Losses: G Justin Britt, S Marcus Carter, CB Simeon Castille, DE Wallace Gilberry, WR D.J. Hall, LB Darren Mustin, LB Keith Saunders
Alabama limped to a .500 regular season record after a promising start in 2007. The defense held the team together when the offense was struggling, but there are some big holes to fill in the front seven. End Wallace Gilberry was easily the most dangerous pass rusher on the team and Brandon Deaderick and Bobby Greenwood will have to fill that void. The Tide could also be in desperate need of some linebackers with the uncertain health status of Ezekial Knight and the suspension of Prince Hall.
It will be impossible for the offense to struggle too much with such a veteran line returning. Six players are back who started last year and five of those were the usual starters. Antoine Caldwell and Andre Smith are two of the best in the conference and the unit overall should be one of the best in the nation. Alabama is on the verge of big things and that is because of the great recruiting classes Coach Nick Saban is bringing to Tuscaloosa. The best is yet to come, but for now the team at least has some quality, albeit inexperienced, depth and plenty of guys hungry to take over some playing time if the veterans should falter.
John Parker Wilson can be a solid quarterback, but it sure did not look that way at the end of last season. The spring showed signs that Wilson and the offense are out of their funk, but will that last all season long? And to make matters more questionable, he will have to do it all this year without leading receiver D.J. Hall and secondary options Keith Brown and Matt Caddell. That leaves Mike McCoy, who caught 28 passes for 207 yards last year, as the most experienced pass catcher. There is plenty of talent like redshirt freshman Darius Hanks and incoming freshmen Julio Jones and Burton Scott, but Wilson might need some time to adjust to his new receivers. The running game was not too bad last year, led by freshman Terry Grant. However, Grant did wear down at the end of the year when the offense was struggling and it remains to be seen if he can be depended on for an entire season.
The Bottom Line for the Crimson Tide:
Alabama is only going to get better, but if they want to win the SEC West this year the offense will have to find some consistency and the defense has to find some new leaders. The experienced secondary is a good place to look for new leaders and Rashad Johnson is up for the job. The free safety led the team in tackles and interceptions last year and will provide some much needed senior leadership.
2007 Alabama Crimson Tide Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 149.23 (60th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 224.54 (59, 6)
Total Offense: 373.77 (75, 7)
Scoring Offense: 27.08 (64, 7)
Rushing Defense: 124.15 (28, 4)
Pass Defense: 221.31 (48, 9)
Total Defense: 345.46 (31, 6)
Scoring Defense: 22.00 (27, 4)
Turnover Margin: .31 (34, 5)
Sacks: 1.85 (73, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (51, 7)
By Joel Welser
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