Southern Football Report Preseason Top 25 – Team #5

#5 – Alabama Crimson Tide
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)
2013 Record: 11-2 (7-1)

The last two times we all saw the Alabama Crimson Tide take the field, they were beaten in unbelievable fashion by the now historic ‘Kick Six’ play and beaten fairly soundly by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. We all know that because of those two losses, it hasn’t been a picnic in Tuscaloosa this offseason which should scare the daylights out of all other SEC programs. When you add all the factors, Alabama should fall off a little bit after last season but the talent that is stacked in Tuscaloosa over the past five seasons combined with the relentlessness of Nick Saban’s quest for perfection, don’t expect the Crimson Tide to go

TJ Yeldon rushed for more yards in his first two seasons than anyone in Alabama history.
TJ Yeldon rushed for more yards in his first two seasons than anyone in Alabama history.

anywhere but up in 2014. The loss that sticks out the most in the one at the quarterback position as AJ McCarron, one of the most decorated players in college football history, graduated. McCarron was third in the SEC in passing efficiency in 2013 as he threw 28 touchdowns for the Tide last season. The competition to fill his shoes has been heated since transfer Jacob Coker, who played at the same high school as McCarron, arrived on campus this summer. Coker has been in competition with senior Blake Sims and the coaching staff has yet to name a starter. All reports that I’ve read have Sims penciled in as the starter because he knows the playbook and scheme so well and Coker hasn’t picked up on everything as quickly as the staff had hoped. I still think that Coker will end up being named the starter before the first game. If the quarterback is the brain of the Bama offense, the offensive line is spine and the Tide return three of five starters from last season including senior left guard Arie Kouandjio who will be the leader of a group who averaged almost six yards per carry in 2013. The quarterback is the brain, the offensive line is the spine and the runningback position in the heart and Alabama has the strongest heart in all of college football with TJ Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry all coming back. Yeldon rushed for 1235 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013. Yeldon rushed for 72 yards and touchdown in the Sugar Bowl but fumbled a few times which made many Tide fans call for Henry to be the starter this season. Head Coach Nick Saban isn’t listening to that but Alabama will rotate in all three backs again in 2014. Alabama also returns five of their six top pass catchers from last year including Amari Cooper and DeAndrew White who combined for 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns last season. Throw in return man extraordinaire Christian Jones who had two receiving touchdowns and three touchdowns from kick returns.

The Crimson Tide has been one of the top defensive teams in the country

Head Coach Nick Saban
Head Coach Nick Saban

every year since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa and even though the Tide lost six starters from a year ago the five that they do return were leaders on the defense in 2013 and will be leaders again in 2014. Senior middle linebacker Trey DePriest trailed only CJ Mosley in tackles for loss in 2013 with 5.5 and will be the vocal leader of a group who held opponents to less than two touchdowns per game last season. In the secondary, Bama returns both safeties who accounted for 110 tackles last season and junior safety Landon Collins led all defenders with six pass break ups. Incoming true freshman Tony Brown has been penciled in as one of the starting cornerbacks so having two veteran safeties behind him will definitely aid in the learning curve. The defensive line is where the Tide will need to improve from a year ago after recording the lowest number of sacks since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa with 22. Leading the way towards that improvement will be senior defensive tackle Brandon Ivory and sophomore A’Shawn Robinson who led the defense with 5.5 sacks.

Landon Collins will lead the 2014 Alabama secondary.
Landon Collins will lead the 2014 Alabama secondary.

Alabama opens the season with West Virginia, a team who only went 4-8 last season, in Atlanta at a neutral site. The Crimson Tide are 11-4 in neutral site games under Nick Saban and are 9-1 in those games since 2009. After two home games against Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss, Florida pays their first visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium since 2010 in Alabama’s conference opener where the Crimson Tide are looking to make it 23 wins in a row in conference openers. The month of October will contain three road games and begins with a bye week before a road trip to Oxford to play Ole Miss, who many are pointing to as a possible upset for the Rebels. Alabama travels to Arkansas the following week before a home date with Texas A&M and then another road game in Knoxville against Tennessee. Just like October, November opens with a well-placed bye week before the game at LSU which will most likely, at least I hope for college football’s sake, be a ‘Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium’. The following week Alabama welcomes Mississippi State to Tuscaloosa in a classic trap game scenario as the Iron Bowl approaches a few weeks later. The Iron Bowl is yet again back in the mix as the most heated and relevant rivalries in the country.

Only the Alabama Crimson Tide can lose a two time national champion as a starter quarterback, a top receiver and six starting defenders and move up in the rankings. Transfer quarterback Jacob Coker will most likely win the starting quarterback job but will be just a passenger on the offense early in the season because new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will be very willing to run the ball early and often. The Alabama defense is the Alabama defense regardless of how many starters left after last season and will continue to be one of the top five defenses in the country. The offense and defense are both loaded and efficient and the schedule works out pretty favorably with bye weeks before the two toughest games heading into the season. I expect the Crimson Tide to lose fewer games in 2014 than they did in the last two weeks of last year.

Bryant-Denny Stadium
Bryant-Denny Stadium

Stay logged on to for Team #4 on Tuesday and tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday from 10am-Noon starting on August 23rd! Here is a hint for Team #4: This team gives a small gold charm depicting football pants to all players after a victory over their main rival.

#4 – ?????????????????
#5 – Alabama Crimson Tide
#6 – Auburn Tigers
#7 – Baylor Bears
#8 – Oregon Ducks
#9 – Georgia Bulldogs
#10 – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#11 – USC Trojans
#12 – LSU Tigers
#13 – Michigan State Spartans
#14 – South Carolina Gamecocks
#15 – Ole Miss Rebels
#16 – Wisconsin Badgers
#17 – Stanford Cardinal
#18 – North Carolina Tar Heels
#19 – Florida Gators
#20 – Texas Longhorns
#21 – Iowa Hawkeyes
#22 – Arizona Wildcats
#23 – Boise State Broncos
#24 – Northwestern Wildcats
#25 РMichigan Wolverines 

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