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2021 Alabama Crimson Tide: Is This the Year They Slip a Notch?
Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.

2021 Alabama Crimson Tide: Is This the Year They Slip a Notch?

In any other program this would be a year of transition with too many losses to overcome. They lost a great QB, a tremendous running back, and the Heisman Trophy winner. They also had three other No.1 NFL draft picks. Plus, they lost their offensive coordinator. And maybe this WILL cause a drop-off, but at Alabama they just shrug and turn to the next future All-American waiting in the wings. So, until proven otherwise Coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have earned the benefit of the doubt. They will be my choice for No.1 until someone knocks them out of it even though I think they are vulnerable in 2021.

Offense: The Tide have only four starters back from one of the most dynamic offenses in college football history and the guys they lost are among the best to play at Alabama. Not only that, but they lost the offensive coordinator too. Bill O’Brien, a former head coach at Penn State and with the NFL Houston Texans comes in and takes over the offense. He is experienced and won’t be intimidated by the situation, so Alabama is in good hands. After several years of superlative QB play, the Tide will be breaking in Bryce Young who has all the tools necessary to succeed. But, he has yet to prove he can handle the pressures of playing at Alabama. Replacing Najee Harris and all his production at running back will be Brian Robinson Jr. who rushed for 483 yards and six touchdowns in a supporting role. There also is quality depth behind him. John Metchie III is the leading receiver returning (55 catches and 6 TDs. The Tide also added Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams to help and there are several young players waiting their turn. The offensive line has been shaken up and some players have switched positions but Alabama usually gets the line straightened out.

Defense: Defensively, the Tide has an experienced and strong defensive front. LaBryan Ray missed half of the season last year with a foot injury and he is back to join DJ Dale and Phidarian Mathis. The linebackers are great led by Christian Harris who had 79 tackles including 7 for loss. He will be joined by Will Anderson Jr. and Christopher Allen and together they will be the strength of a very good defense. Josh Jobe has All-American potential at corner and along with Malachi Moore and Jordan Battle, the back end is talented and deep.

Non-Conference Schedule:

9/4 Miami at Atlanta

9/11 Mercer

9/25 Southern Miss

11/13 New Mexico State

In the last few years, Alabama has opened with a good opponent and has throttled them. This game could be more competitive with Miami because of each team’s situation at QB. Miami has a veteran signal-caller and Alabama doesn’t so this game is scary. The other three opponents can’t be looking forward to the trip to Tuscaloosa.

Conference Schedule:

9/18 at Florida

10/2 Ole Miss

10/9 at Texas A&M

10/16 at Mississippi State

10/23 Tennessee

11/6 LSU

11/20 Arkansas

11/27 at Auburn

As usual, there are some troublesome games in the SEC. The early season game at Florida is of concern especially if the Tide is struggling on offense. Then in October, Alabama travels to Texas A&M and the Aggies are beating their chest about how good they might be. They should win at Mississippi State and the final game at Auburn is always a severe challenge. They should breeze through all of the home games except for LSU which always gives Alabama fits.

Summary: If the replacements for all those phenomenal players struggle early, the defense should be strong enough if the offense falters and drops off a notch. The game with Miami is iffy and there are some pitfalls in conference play. Alabama will probably be fine but don’t be surprised if they lose a couple.

Predicted Finish: 1st Place in the SEC West

Overall Record: 11-1

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