Monday, August 13, 2007

SEC West Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide
6-7, 2-6, 6-2 Home, 0-4 Road, 0-1 Neutral

Quick Facts:
Returning Starters: 14 (9 Offense, 5 Defense)
Returning Letterman: 46 (19 Off, 24 Def, 3 ST)
Letterman Lost: 19 (6 Off, 12 Def, 1 ST)
Avg Score in SEC Play: 16.6-21.9

2006 Lines:
ATS 5-6-1; Home Fav 2-5; Home Dog 0-1; Away Dog 3-0-1; Favorite 2-5; Dog 3-1-1;
Vs Conf 3-4-1; vs Non Conf 2-2; Off SU Win 3-3; Off SU Loss 2-2-1

Last 7 years:
ATS 34-44-3; Home Fav 15-24; Home Dog 3-6-1; Away Fav 5-7-1; Away Dog 11-7-1; Favorite 20-31-2; Dog 14-13-2; vs Conf 22-31-3; vs Non Conf 12-13; Off SU Win 20-19-2;

Off SU Loss 12-20-1

Interesting Fact:
Alabama won 3 SEC titles from 1978-1981. Alabama has won 3 since 1981.

Got Saban? Resident college football guru Nick Saban returns to college to resurrect an Alabama program stuck in mediocrity in the SEC. The tide faithful have 4 million reasons to expect a lot of Saban, not limited too beating Auburn (5 straight losses) and winning the SEC (last in 1999).

Saban brought in Major Applewhite from Rice to open up the offense for QB John Parker Wilson. The junior will have a couple of deep ball threats in Keith Brown and DJ Hall (2nd team SEC). The Tide are still looking for a capable back; Redshirt Terry Grant looks to be the favorite (Most Improved Player in Spring). Nine of the top ten offensive linemen return including all five starters. Andre Smith is just a sophomore, but played more snaps than any lineman last year. Applewhite set school records at Rice for most points scored and led the Owls to their first bowl since 1961.

The Tide uses a 3-4 defensive scheme under 1st DC Kevin Steele who came FSU as their LB coach. The Tide return their top players from the DL and should see some improvement in this area. The linebacking corps will rely on a few returning starters, but will also depend on some very young players including true freshman Rolando McClain who was a Parade All American last year. One year that will likely see improvement is the secondary due to the influence of Saban. Simeon Castille looks to build off his 1st team All-SEC performance last year. Five players return who have started in the past.

Special Teams-
K Jamie Christensen has endured an up and down career. PJ Fitzgerald was Freshman All SEC last year. Tyrone Prothro would have been a demon at returner, but will miss his second straight year and is likely done with football.

Impact Freshman:
Rolando McClain LB
Kerry Murphy DT
Michael Ricks SS (JC)

The Tide upped the non-conference schedule this season with the addition of Florida State in Jacksonville. From the East, they play Georgia (home), Tennessee (home), and Vanderbilt (road). I really think the game in Nashville will tell you about this Crimson Tide team. If they lose that game it will be a long year; if they win convincingly against a good Vanderbilt team then they will be a force in the West. Tennessee comes at the end of 8 straight games with a bye week and then LSU at home. Auburn is on the road and is looking to extend the streak to a second hand (6 in a row).
Best Case: 9-3
Worst Case: 7-5

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