For the first time since A.J. McCarron in 2013, Alabama has a returning starting quarterback in Jalen Hurts. But the Tide is breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll, late of the Patriots, who replaces the mercurial Lane Kiffin. Calvin Ridley is one of the best receivers in the league and the running game is deep and solid behind Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris. Punter JK Scott is an offensive weapon in his own right. The offense will have to carry things early as the defensive front is being rebuilt; even Nick Saban acknowledges it’s the youngest defense the Tide has had in years. At the back end, though, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick is All-America caliber and there is experience in the secondary.
Head Coach: Nick Saban (11th year at Alabama, 114-19)
Coordinators: Brian Daboll (offense), Jeremy Pruitt (defense)
Social Media: www.rolltide.com, @UA_Athletics, @NickSabanUofA
2016 Record: 14-1 overall, 8-0 in SEC; SEC West and SEC champion, lost in CFP championship game
- Sept. 2 vs. Florida State (in Atlanta)
- Sept. 9 Fresno State
- Sept. 16 Colorado State
- Sept. 23 at Vanderbilt
- Sept. 30 Ole Miss
- Oct. 7 at Texas A&M
- Oct. 14 Arkansas
- Oct. 21 Tennessee
- Oct. 28 Off
- Nov. 4 LSU
- Nov. 11 at Mississippi State
- Nov. 18 Mercer
- Nov. 25 at Auburn
Circle The Date: Nov. 25 at Auburn. Yeah, everybody is geared up for the opener against Florida State. But it will have little impact; the Tide could still lose and recover to be in the national title mix. But the SEC West title could legitimately come down to the Iron Bowl.
Top Returnees: QB Jalen Hurts, WR Calvin Ridley, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, P JK Scott, OL Jonah Williams, RB Bo Scarbrough.
Will Win SEC West If…: Hurts continues his improvement and shrugs off his poor play at the end of ‘16 and the defense can approach the level at which it played a year ago.
What They Said: “It’s going to be a challenge for us offensively to be able to have the kind of team that we need to have to help our defense, especially early on. But I think it’s important that our team develop an identity, which is always a challenge from a coaching standpoint, that all the players buy into, take ownership for, and are accountable to, doing the things that we need to do to establish the identity that we want to establish of being a team that’s difficult to play against because of our ability to execute, play with mental and physical toughness, be able to finish, which we weren’t able to do last year in the championship game.” – Coach Nick Saban
What We Say: 1st in SEC West, SEC Champion, Sugar Bowl/CFP Semifinal