2009 Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Team Preview
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
National Rank: 5
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Offensive Coordinator: Jim McElwain
Defensive Coordinator: Kirby Smart
Last League Title: 1999
2008 Record: 12-2, 8-0 in SEC (1st in SEC West). Lost to Florida in the SEC championship game.
Sports Book: ATS 9-5
Stadium: Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,138)
Odds to Win BCS Championship: 25-1
The Crimson Tide run a conventional offense, but they have started using different formations since Jim McElwain became the offensive coordinator. The passing attack will be featured more this year, but as usual the Tide will rely on the rushing attack to move the chains. QB Greg McElroy may get the starting nod ahead of Star Jackson, but while he is solid at managing the game he has only thrown 20 career passes.
Even though RB Glen Coffee is now in the NFL the Tide still have a good rushing game led by Mark Ingram, who was one of the better freshman RB’s in the nation last season. The other backs that will get some carries this season are Roy Upchurch, Terry Grant, Jeramie Griffin, and highly touted true freshman Trent Richardson. WR Julio Jones is a star and set to have a big season, as the one big passing threat the Tide have.
The offensive line is a concern, as they lost 3 starters. The line will be big and physical, but chemistry is a concern. Juco transfer Tackle James Carpenter looked solid in spring practice and he will anchor the line this season.
Keep an eye on McElroy, as if he can establish a solid passing attack the Tide will have a great offense.
Returning Offensive Starters
Julio Jones (WR So)
Mike McCoy (WR Sr)
Drew Davis (T Sr)
Mike Johnson (G Sr)
Leigh Tiffin (K Sr)
The Tide run an aggressive 3-4 defense that is about creating mismatches up front. The front line is stacked and led by monster run blocker 365 pound NT Terrence Cody. LB Rolando McClain is one of the better pass rushers in the nation and is great against the run and in pass coverage. Fellow LB’s Cory Reamer and Eryk Anders are bog and strong and can stop the run and are both returning starters. One of these guys has to step in getting to the opposing QB, as DE Bobby Greenwood, who led the Tide with 5 sacks last season, is gone.
The secondary is solid and very fast led by returning starting CB’s Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson, but they have big shoes to fill as FS Rashad Johnson, who led the Tide with 5 INT’s is no longer there. Freshman CB Dre Kirkpatrick is a highly touted player that may see some playing time right away.
There are no real weaknesses on defense with Alabama, as they will be tough to both run on and pass on.
Defensive Returning Starters
Brandon Deaderisk (DE Sr)
Terrence Cody (NT Sr)
Don’t’a Hightower (LB So)
Rolando McClain (LB Jr)
Cory Reamer (LB Sr)
Javier Arenas (CB Sr)
Kareem Jackson (CB Jr)
Justin Woodall (SS Sr)
P.J. Fitzgerald (P Sr)
K Leigh Tiffin returns and he was solid last season hitting on 69% of his field goals and drilling 2 beyond 50 yards. Punter P.J. Fitzgerald returns and he had a great 2008 season averaging 41.1 yards per boot. CB Javier Arenas is one of the best return men in the nation, as last season 15.9 yards on 41 punt returns, with 3 TD, and 23.6 yards on 26 kickoff returns. The kick coverage units were a disappointment last season and they need to improve this season.
The Bottom Line
The Tide is back to being one of the elite teams in the nation after a few years of mediocre play. They have not won the SEC in a decade, but they may snap that streak this season if they can get some passing offense. Their first game of the season against Virginia Tech will be a stiff test and they play at LSU in SEC conference play and they winner of that game may determine the team that goes to the SEC title game. Expect good things from this Nick Saban coached team.
9/5/09 Virginia Tech (at Atlanta)
9/12/09 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
9/19/09 NORTH TEXAS
10/3/09 at Kentucky
10/10/09 at Ole Miss
10/17/09 SOUTH CAROLINA
11/7/09 at LSU
11/14/09 at Mississippi State
11/28/09 at Auburn
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