Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saban Hopes Recruiting Class Is Springboard For '08


SEC West #3 Alabama Crimson Tide

2007 Results and Offseason
Nick Saban made his home SEC debut with a thrilling win over Arkansas 41-38. But the Tide lost their last four regular season games including a sixth straight defeat to Auburn. Les Miles got the best of Saban in their first meeting also. But Saban turned in a phenomenal recruiting class ranked #1 in the country by many. Offseason trouble did find the Tide though and some unexpected holes will have to be filled.
2007 Record: 7-6, 4-4
Ret. Starters: 13
Ret. Lettermen: 49
Off PPG 26.5 (7th) RYPG 131.6 (7th) PYPG 219.8 (5th)
Def PPG 23.8 (3rd) RYPG 139.6 (5th) PYPG 212.0 (8th)

Offense (7 RS, 23 RL)
John Parker Wilson is back for his senior season and comes off a junior campaign with 18 TDs. The depth behind him is slim and Wilson will have to adjust to another new offensive system with the departure of OC Major Applewhite. The Alabama receivers were hard hit by graduation losing their top three receivers, but this is where the Tide excelled the most in recruiting. Julio Jones was one of the top recruits in the nation and may start right away. Junior Mike McCoy is the leading returning receiver with 28 rec. Leading the o-line are two All-SEC caliber players in C Antoine Caldwell and LT Andre Smith. Two other starters return as well and will block for Terry Grant at RB. Grant will be joined by Glen Coffee.

Defense (6 RS, 23 RL)
Alabama will likely employ a 3-4 scheme again this year until some of their prized recruits can get up to SEC size and speed. DE Wallace Gilberry is gone and his 10 sacks will have to replaced. Saban hopes leading returning tackler Rashad Johnson is not again this year considering he is a FS. LB Rolando McClain leads a group of LB that will be without expected starter Jimmy Johns. Johns was caught selling cocaine and is gone from the team. Prince Hall had off season trouble as well and is currently suspended. Ezekial Knight is out due to medical reasons. All these open spots at LB leave true freshmen Jerrell Harris a good chance of starting. CB Simeon Castille will be replaced Javier Arenas. The other CB Kareem Jackson can defend the best WRs in the SEC.

Special Teams
Leigh Tiffin is back at PK though he hopes to improve on 25-34 LY. PJ Fitzgerald hopes to rebound from a disappointing soph. year. Arenas will return kicks and punts most likely.

Recruiting - Link

Schedule
The Crimson Tide open the year in Atlanta with Clemson. They also play vTulane, vW.Kent, and vs Ark State. From the East they face @UGA, vKent, and @Tenn. The Tide have a bye before Auburn on Nov 29 looking to break Auburn's longest winning streak in the series at six.

Final Thoughts
Saban had an ok year in '07 but did he ever bring in a foundation for the future. The Tide need to get better decision making out of Wilson to contend for the West and hope these freshmen, especially on defense, live up to the hype. Saban did not have LSU winning the SEC from the start but he recruited many of those players on the their 2 NC teams. In other words, Alabama is on the upswing.

Prediction
Likely Wins: vTulane, vW.Kent,vKent,vArk St
Likely Losses: @UGA
8-4, 5-3

Next Up - Tennessee Volunteers

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