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A way too early look at 2017

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  • A way too early look at 2017

    After last night I need something to look forward to. I'm gonna post a preview of next season. Just my humble opinion for dissection and discussion:

    Offense- Should be the strength of the team with quite a few pieces returning and a couple of highly touted youngsters could step into important roles.

    QB- Hurts will start barring an unimaginable spring by Tua or Jones. But the passing must improve. That dead horse has been beaten enough.

    RB-The rich get richer. The top 4 guys return plus the addition of Najee Harris. Should be a real strength. Look for someone to transfer. Too many studs, not enough footballs.

    WR- Another deep position, talent galore. Must replace the most productive player in Ardarius Stewart and need to rediscover Calvin Ridley. Lots of young talent coming in with Jeudy, Smith, and Ruggs. What will Robert Foster do?

    TE- One of the big holes to fill. OJ Howard was always underutilized but was a weapon we could dial up when needed. There are several good young TE's to replace him, but none have quite the skill set OJ had. We're back to more of the Colin Peek, Michael Williams type of possession TE without the explosive ability of OJ. Nothing wrong with that, just different. Jalen needs to learn the names of Hale Hentges and Miller Forristal as a good TE is a young QB's best friend.

    OL- Losing one stud in Cam Rob, plugging in another in Alex Leatherwood. Actually, I would be a bit surprised if super freshman Jonah Williams didn't slide into Cam Rob's spot from his RT position and Leatherwood or someone else take the RT slot. Tackle is another position of depth. Plenty of talented players there. And Bozeman returns at center. The question mark is guard. Guard play was spotty at times last year with several players like Lester Cotton, Piersbacher, and Shank taking turns trying to man the position, none with ringing success. Perhaps a new face such as Richie Pettibon or Dallas Warmack will emerge as a better option, but this is a sore spot that needs to be addressed. Too many times the interior of the line was stymied or even caved in at the point of attack. This is where we impose our will on opponents and the ability to do so is a must.

    Defense-Always a strength under Saban, this unit will have one of the biggest reloading tasks we've seen since he arrived. This could be the season where the Alabama defense goes from immovable object to merely above average. Still, the pieces are there as always, to be very good.

    DL-This year and last year Alabama will have put nearly every player in the regular DL rotation into the NFL. As a consequence, there are gaping holes to fill and the incoming class is a little short on depth at this position. Players like Josh Frazier and D'Shawn Hand need to step up with the next man up philosophy and fill the breach. Da'Ron Payne is a good building block to anchor the line around, but there's plenty of PT available for anyone willing to step up. This unit made the LB's and DB's look better the last couple of seasons with their ability to bring pressure and reestablish the LOS backwards. That may not be the case this year and the entire defense will take a step back toward being exploitable.

    LB-Another position with big shoes to fill. Plenty of young talent to do it with however. Are players like Ben Davis and Mack Wilson ready to play? If not, veterans like Anfernee Jennings and Christian Miller will fill the void. SD Hamilton should return to provide stability and leadership. Will Rashan Evans stay inside or move back outside? Either way, he needs to be on the field. Reuben Foster and his devastating hits will be missed.

    DB- The departure of Eddie Jackson and Marlon Humphrey will sting, but there's a lot of talent and experience returning in the back of the defense with players like Minkah and Anthony Averett coming into their own. Tony Brown finally seemed to get it and will be counted on to contribute. This may be the deepest area on the defense.

    Special Teams-Good news, bad news is the theme for special teams going into 2017. The good news is JK Scott is still here to launch his howitzers on punts and the inconsistent Adam Griffith is out of eligibility in Tuscaloosa. The bad news is the steady Cole Mazza is gone and must be replaced, the new FG kicker is a complete unknown and we never did solve punter returner after Eddie Jackson went down. There's a lot of questions that won't be answered on special teams until at least the A-Day game and maybe not until the fall. Keep your fingers crossed.

    Schedule:

    Sept 2nd- FSU in Atlanta. This may very well be a #1 vs #2 matchup to start the season. It could go either way and it's hard to make a call on this game. Definitely a tossup game.

    Sept 9th- Fresno St in Tuscaloosa- Should be an easy W

    Sept 16th-Colorado St in Tuscaloosa- Should be another comfortable win. Are we applying for Mountain West membership? Fresno, CSU?

    Sept 23rd- Vandy in Nashville- Vandy has shown signs of life under Derrick Mason but this shouldn't be a game we worry about. Another W

    Sept 30th-Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa- Ole Miss will not be as talented or formidable as they have been, but Freeze has a way of making us look bad. He seems to have our number to a certain degree. I don't think he can pull the upset but I expect this game will be closer than we would like. A close W.

    Oct 7th-Texas A&M in College Station- Another team that loves to give us fits. We match up with them better with Noel Mazzone calling the plays than we did with the previous OC. Not an easy game, but another W in my book.

    Oct 14th- Arkansas in Tuscaloosa- Bert is wearing out his welcome in Fayette Nam and would already be gone if he hadn't screwed the Hogs with a huge buyout. Recruiting in the trenches has been suspect and that's not a recipe for success in the SEC West. Not a gimme, but a W still.

    Oct 21st- Tennessee in Tuscaloosa- The Streak must end sometime, right? Not this year. UT must reload and I don't think Butch is a very good coach. Smoke em if ya got em. Another W barring a big upset.

    Oct 28th- Open date and the much needed break before LSU

    Nov. 4th LSU in Tuscaloosa- They are still the only team that can line up with us toe to toe talent-wise. Therefore they are always dangerous. Matt Canada adds another layer of uncertainty with a new offensive scheme. Aranda is always good. Ogre is a complete wild card. He will have them pumped for this game as always. Put it in the tossup category as it could go either way and the West may be riding on this game.

    Nov. 11th Miss State in StarkVegas- This game always has trap written all over it between LSU and Auburn. Mullen doesn't have enough weapons to be truly dangerous as he might be elsewhere. As usual, this game worries me, but we usually win. W

    Nov. 18th- Mercer in Tuscaloosa- The obligatory creme puff before Auburn. It will be sloppy, ugly, and frustrating. And a big W anyway.

    Nov. 25th- Auburn in Auburn- Probably the only other contender in the West outside of Bama and LSU, the Iron Bowl could have a prize of an Atlanta trip riding on the outcome. It remains to be seen how much Stidham and new OC Chip Lindsey will jump start the anemic Auburn passing game. They may be the biggest wild card on the schedule pre-season but by Nov. we should have a good read on the Tigers. Still, for now, it goes in the tossup category as you don't yet know what we're facing.

    Post-season- Another trip to the playoffs is possible. So is a trip to the Sugar Bowl. Worst case scenario in my book is a 9-3 and a trip to New Orleans or the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. At this way to early point, there's still a lot of questions too be answered both for us and for everyone else. Still, you have to like where we are as a program. I know I do.
    Last edited by Killer Instinct; 02-06-2017, 05:31 PM.

  • #2
    Never too early! Looking forward to responding to this when I get a few mins this evening

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Killer Instinct View Post

      Special Teams-Good news, bad news is the theme for special teams going into 2017. The good news is JK Scott is still here to launch his howitzers on punts and the inconsistent Adam Griffith is out of eligibility in Tuscaloosa.
      Very nice post, thanks for taking the time to put it down. I just want to point out that Griffith went 21 for 28 this year. That's a very good year. He ended his career 57 for 82. That's a good career.


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      • #4
        9-3

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        • #5
          Good stuff to chew on between now and the A Day game. Thanks for posting.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by It Takes Eleven View Post

            Very nice post, thanks for taking the time to put it down. I just want to point out that Griffith went 21 for 28 this year. That's a very good year. He ended his career 57 for 82. That's a good career.

            Yes, that's a good career. Tell me when was the last time you didn't hold your breath when he was kicking one? Adam tried and I thank him for his efforts and appreciated the fact he had back problems but I never felt good about his kicking. It'd be nice to have a kicker who was money inside 40 and had ice water in his veins

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bamaholic View Post
              9-3

              I said worst case scenario.

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              • #8
                Great insight KI but aren't we Always surprises how good the teams the teams turn out to be.k agree the question mark the barn is but I see no closing of the gap tween us and UT or lsu. I see maybe one loss.FSU def a toss up and barn. But won't lose both. Roll Tide

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                • #9

                  QB - Agreed that it will take an injury or craziness to beat out Hurts. His passing WILL IMPROVE. No doubt in my mind. He will focus like hell on it and the experience will only help. I'm fascinated with the idea of having Tua as well, because it completely allows us to not adapt the offense if Hurts leaves. Aside from being left handed they have the same exact tool set. Tremendous insurance policy who's already enrolled. Throw in a big time arm in Mac Jones and I would not trade our QB situation for anyone in the country. A good looking returner, only a soph, and 2 freshman backups that check all the boxes. Saban has this position as perfect as possible.

                  WR - RIDLEY, RIDLEY, RIDLEY. I thought last year that Hurts and Stewart had a great relationship which earned him more passes. Next year it will be all about Ridley. Backup situation is somewhat concerning with so much youth. I've said it before and will say it again... Damn shame we traded Daylon Charlot for Deiter last year. Cam Sims should be a solid option, as well as TJ Simmons who impressed some early on. My guess is Diggs becomes #2. Very hard to keep Jeudy off the field and Smith could compete... Not looking good for Falkins or Keif, but maybe they can block.

                  TE - We have a star in the making. The fact that Foristall was getting A LOT of snaps last year, despite Hentges and OJ as returners, is a sign that the staff must love him. He could finally be the allusive 2 way TE that we never had (no offense OJ, but we never used him after he learned to block). He's going to put on 15 lbs and be 6'6 240 soon. Beast. Hentges appears to be a solid blocker. Throw in 2 big freshman, hopefully 1 can contribute when an injury occurs.

                  OL - Fully expect to see Jonah W moved to LT. Bozeman will be great at OC and Ross Pthe same at guard. My guess is Leatherwood steps in at RT with the juco kid Baker in the mix. Sounds like Cotton got overloaded mentally last year but I'm confident he will step in at guard. If not, I was extremely high on Pettibone out of HS and believe he can be an option. There was some chatter about either Chris Owens or Deionte Brown (can't remember) being in the 2 deep late in the season. Good sign. I can't ever see Warmack, Hass, or Casher ever being full time starters at their size. Warmack probably best chance, but still.

                  DL - Depth is a question mark. Hand and Payne will start. Will the third be Frazier or Buggs? There is potential depth with R. Davis, OJ Smith, and Jamar King but unfortunately they all seem like the same style of player. Aside from Hand and Quinnen Williams, I don't see that 3-4 DE that can really get to the passer and still stuff the run. Payne will get a chance to do that. Speaking of Quinnen Williams, he's my darkhorse to eat up some snaps... Got up to 284lbs on the roster, huge jump for him. Maybe he's ready. Of the freshman, Mathis probably the most physically ready, but Ray is so talented that if he puts on 10 lbs, he's got to see the field. He's ridiculously talented. Lastly, wouldn't be surprised to see Mekhi Brown and/or Josh McMillon moved to DE. Seems natural with their size and the depth at OLB.

                  OLB - Speaking of OLB's... errrr... DE's... Same thing - This should be a fun group. Jennings has the makings of Upshaw 2.0. Christian Miller saw some snaps this season and should continue to add weight. Terrell Hall will be a mainstay and has the most upside of anyone we've recruited there... Unless he gets too big. Haven't heard much about Ben Davis but loved him out of HS... Hope to see him get a chance. Freshman wise, Chris Allen looks the perfect JLB for us... Not sure where Cowan/Moses end up, but either could factor in as well.

                  MLB - SDH & Rashaan will special starters. After that, who knows? Holcombe seems like a steady option but Mack Wilson might be next in line. Does Ben Davis end up inside? I was super impressed with M. Benton but freshman MLB's in Saban's scheme is asking a lot. Cowan and/or Moses could factor in here too...Depth will be fun to watch here.

                  DB - Averette only sure thing at CB... Mostly because we don't know where Minkah goes? I'm sugessing Saban maxamizes his talents by starting him at CB in base, and moving him to Star in Nickle. If Minkah play safety would it be Knott? Shy Carter? Saban seemed to like Aaron Robinson. Someone will need to step up. I'm guessing Tony Brown plays either Star or safety. Last 2 years Saban has really gone with pass coverage guys over physicality. I was not impressed with Brown last season but he gets the nod with experience. Hootie should factor in as the other safety or at least the Dime. Deionte Thompson could beat him out though. Mayden a nice sleeper, as well as freshman McKinney

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                  • #10
                    Good stuff, stalker. Thanks.

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                    • #11
                      I was thinking the same thing about Tony Brown. He showed a few flashes of improvement last year, but still got beat a good bit. He really needs to get it ALL together this season.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Killer Instinct View Post

                        Yes, that's a good career. Tell me when was the last time you didn't hold your breath when he was kicking one? Adam tried and I thank him for his efforts and appreciated the fact he had back problems but I never felt good about his kicking. It'd be nice to have a kicker who was money inside 40 and had ice water in his veins
                        I hold my breath with every kick, regardless of kicker. It's like a free throw. You're supposed to hit most of them so when you miss it's a disappointment. I think a kicker has a bad game or two (think about Leigh Tiffin's horrible Arkansas game in 2006 - 1 for 4 FG and missed a PAT to lose in OT) and they are painted with a broad brush without looking at their actual performance. Some hit big kicks (think about Van Tiffin's aubrun kick) yet they were more inconsistent than we recall. Griffith was 75 percent this year and 72 percent last year, ending at 70 percent for his career. Leigh Tiffin, the most prolific kicker in Bama history (I think Phillip Doyle was better but he got fewer opportunities) was 75 percent for his career, but had an awesome 86 percent his senior year, 69 jr., 74 soph and 62 frosh. Doyle has a career 74 percent, and was money in his later years (61% in '88, 88% in '89 and 83% in '90). Jeremy Shelley was 80 percent for his career, but he was a shorter FG specialist which boosted his stats, IMO. Van Tiffin was 67 percent for his career and 65 percent in '85 when he hit The Kick.

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                        • Killer Instinct
                          Killer Instinct commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I'll qualify your statement with one observation on Van Tiffin. I'm going off memory and it was a long time ago, but I think Van's overall percentage was so low because he was asked to kick longer field goals on average. I know he was asked to kick 50 plus ones on a fairly regular basis. If it was inside 55, they would trot Van out there. And he was damn good. At least that's how I remember him. Inside 35 he was automatic.

                        • It Takes Eleven
                          It Takes Eleven commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I agree, Van Tiffin attempted some long ones because he could, I think he hit a 57 yarder against aTm. I'll check the stats to see if there was a short yardage guy who kicked with him, but I don't recall that.

                          To be clear, nothing I've said is intended to be a knock on Van Tiffin. I'm just trying to make sure Griffith's contributions are in context to those who preceeded him.. Tiffin's 52-yarder against aubrun was the best Bama game I've ever attended in person. Despite Gene Jelks' later transgressions, he was the man in that game, too. The most satisfying thing about that game is that I was sitting in aubrun season ticket territory, engaged (at the time) to a booster's daughter who was a recruiting hostess (Tigerette). Sleeping with the enemy.

                      • #13
                        The Crimson Tide recently interviewed Joe Pannunzio for the vacant position, according to The Tuscaloosa News' Aaron Suttles.

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                        • #14
                          Roach got Poached by Ole Piss
                          The former Alabama staffer takes over for Tray Scott, who left Ole Miss last week.

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                          • #15
                            Originally posted by Bamaholic
                            Roach got Poached by Ole Piss
                            Good for him though. I'm hoping he gets the opportunity to come back home soon.

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