Projecting the Offensive Starters for Alabama in 2019

Projecting the offensive starters for Alabama in 2019

Last season, the Alabama Crimson Tide became an elite offense. This was due to their high-power passing ability of Heisman-Trophy runner-up quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The offensive line was solid and Tagovailoa had a variety of weapons in the passing game. Running backs Damien Harris, Najee Harris, and flex-back Joshua Jacobs complimented the offense. This season will feature a large number of returners. They will, however, go through their fourth offensive coordinator in four seasons in Steve Sarkisian. He’ll be looking to redeem his failure coaching the Tide in the 2017 National Championship loss to Clemson and two inconsistent years with the Atlanta Falcons. This season, the Crimson Tide will be one of the most explosive offenses in college football. Now, we’ll take our stab at projecting the offensive starters for Alabama in 2019.

Quarterback

A determined and eager Tagovailoa might be one of the most dangerous players in all of college football. Last season, he threw for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns, and only six interceptions on 245 completions out of 355 attempts. He and Clemson Tigers’ quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be the co-favorites to win the Heisman Trophy this season. An interesting storyline for Alabama this offseason was the huge development of Mac Jones. His performance through the spring and training camp has easily given him the role of a backup quarterback. Jones threw for 271 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception on 19 completions out of 23 attempts in the Alabama spring game. The younger brother of Tua, Taulia Tagovailoa, might take the season to redshirt. Joining him might be fellow true freshman in Paul Tyson.

Running Back

It is finally Harris’ time to shine in the backfield as the starter after Damien Harris and Jacobs departed for the 2019 NFL Draft. Last season, Harris rushed 783 yards (second highest) and four touchdowns on 117 carries (third-highest). Tide fans will be able to see Harris’ full potential as a speedy, dominate back now that he is the starter. Junior Brian Robinson Jr. will also have a big opportunity to carry Alabama to another top offensive season. In the spring game, Robinson was a dangerous flex running back in the rushing game and the receiving game. He rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries as well as caught six receptions for 52 yards. Losing true freshman Trey Sanders to a foot injury for likely the year is tough. This will leave true freshman Jerome Ford and true freshman Kelian Robinson to take over the depth.

Outside Wide Receivers

The 2018 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy will lead the most efficient and dangerous wideouts in the nation. Jeudy accounted for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns on 68 receptions. He averaged 19.3 yards per reception. Junior Henry Ruggs III will be the other starting outside wide receiver. Last season, he accounted for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns on 46 receptions. Jaylen Waddle was the biggest surprise for the Crimson Tide’s offense last season. From game one, he was highly efficient against less established defensive backs. Waddle will continue to be the first receiver off the bench when the Tide go to multiple wideout formations. Yet another freshman wide receiver in John Metchie could explode onto the scene for Alabama. He was voted as the A-Day game MVP as he accounted for five receptions for 133 yards just coming out of high school.

Inside wide receiver

Junior wide receiver DeVonta Smith has always been a reliable inside target for the Crimson Tide offense. His impact as a clutch route-running receiver goes back to the game-winners in 2017 against Mississippi State and in the national championship against Georgia. Smith is the receiver for Tagovailoa looks to when he is pressured. Smith often beats the linebackers in man-to-man coverage. Bringing up depth and immediate impact are sophomore wide receiver Tyrel Shavers and freshman Slade Bolden. Both receivers brought their name to light when showcased alongside Metchie in the A-Day game. They can also provide depth at the outside receiver providing there is an injury.

Tight End

This was a difficult position for Alabama to replace a starter as they didn’t return a player who accounted for a reception last season. Throughout the offseason, redshirt junior Miller Forristall has been taking the first-team reps. In the A-Day game, he accounted for 32 yards on three receptions. Forristall and redshirt sophomore Major Tennison will be the main contributors at the flex tight end position where they will also be a fullback. A former linebacker in redshirt freshman Cameron Latu has adjusted well to the tight end position. He has mostly played on the line of scrimmage throughout the offseason. Latu accounted for 37 yards on two receptions in the A-Day game. Senior tight ends Giles Amos and John Parker will likely see some playing time as an extra blocker or extra receiver.

Offensive Tackles

Alabama lost another star offensive lineman that has started essentially every game since their freshman year in tackle Jonah Williams. They do return junior Jedrick Wills Jr. at the right tackle position. According to Pro Football Focus, Wills was the highest-graded overall lineman in 2018 for Alabama with an overall grade of 71.6. He is a solid contributor as a pass protector and a run blocker. The Tide moved guard junior Alex Leatherwood to his natural left tackle position. This will make Leatherwood a more consistent blocker in the passing game. Scott Lashley will backup Leatherwood at the left tackle position. During the A-Day game, freshman tackle Tommy Brown participated with the first-team while Wills was out with a foot injury. Expect true freshman Armani Knight to push for a chance to play or start for an injured tackle.

Guards and Center

This is a position group that is loaded with high-caliber talent and may see multiple players starting. Senior Matt Womack is the most experienced offensive lineman outside of Leatherwood and Wills. He has started multiple games for Alabama due to injuries and inconsistencies of other blockers. He and Freshman Emil Ekiyor has been holding the helm throughout Spring at the right guard and left guard positions, respectively. Junior Chris Owens has also been holding his own after replacing long-time contributor Ross Pierschbacher. True freshman Evan Neal was one of three Alabama players selected as the preseason all-freshman team. Neal will eventually be a star lineman for Alabama, even if he is a backup this season. Florida State transfer junior Landon Dickerson and sophomore Hunter Brannon will be building up their consistencies while backing up at guard and center.

Kicker

The kicker position is an area that no Crimson Tide fan wants to talk about due to the continuing struggles. Sophomore Joseph Bulovas didn’t prove to be the Tide’s most reliable kicker. Last season, Bulovas successfully kicked 77.8% of his field goals (14-of- 18) and 92.6% of his extra points (75-of-81). The addition of true freshman kicker Will Reichard made Crimson Tide fans happy to see him in the A-Day game. Reichard has reportedly been surpassing all expectations in the summer and fall training camps.

Return specialists

Having a roster full of some of the most highly recruited athletes in the nation can leave a team like Alabama with a lot of options for a return. Last season, Jacobs was the main kickoff returner due to his athleticism as a flex player. With Jacobs gone, the Tide will likely turn to another flex player which might be Robinson, Jr. Last season, Robinson, Jr did return five kickoffs for 84 yards. He and Waddle will likely be the main punt returners this season for the Tide. Last season, Waddle returned 25 punts for 951 yards and a touchdown.

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