The Alabama Crimson Tide is coming into this 2021 season as the number one team in the Coaches Poll. They are the team that returns the most talent and experience among all College Football Playoff teams. Alabama is also the team that will face the most pressure this upcoming season. The Tide faces some changes compared to last year’s championship-winning team, including the loss of Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith. With a fantastic recruiting season and the first full off-season development in two years, Bama is ready for the final preparations of Fall camp.
Five Questions The Alabama Crimson Tide Have This Fall Camp
How Ready is Bryce Young?
Young hasn’t started a regular-season game, yet he is already one of the most popular quarterbacks in college football. He has already reportedly made nearly $1 million in NIL deals, and he is among some of the Heisman Trophy favorites. The reality for Young is that he will go into the final stages of preparation for his first start. There will be a ton of pressure for Young through the remainder of the off-season. Most quarterbacks coming into the season as the starter, especially on a championship-winning team, have experience playing in games. This past season, Young threw for 156 yards and a touchdown on 13 completions (out of 22 passing attempts) in seven games played.
After the loss of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to become the head coach of the Texas Longhorns, the Tide hired former Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien as the new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. The loss of Sarkisian and quarterback Mac Jones would be a significant loss for any team. But both O’Brien and Young attempt to retain the high-intensity scoring of the Tide’s offense last season. O’Brien has been complementary of Young’s ability to be a solid teammate and has earned the trust of the locker room. Time will tell how physically prepared Young is as they are over two weeks away from facing the Miami Hurricanes in Atlanta. Young needs more time to retain consistency throughout the remaining off-season for the Tide. The season’s success rests on his shoulders.
Which Running Back Stands Out In Fall Camp?
While most of the attention is on the passing game this off-season, the Tide are still trying to figure out their running game. While senior Brian Robinson Jr. is likely the first-string running back to start the season for the Tide, there is still a high level of competition among four backs. Sophomore Jace MccLellan has complimented on his speed and velocity to be the starting back this season. Sophomore Roydell Williams has been getting first-string reps with Robinson out during the summer. Finally, sophomore Trey Sanders has been solid this Fall Camp returning from a season-ending injury caused by a car crash this past year. He has practiced playing at 100% speed and strength, which becomes harder for O’Brien to pick a starter. Expect this position battle to keep developing throughout the 2021 season.
How Are The Elite Linebackers Progressing This Fall Camp?
The biggest positive going into the off-season after winning the championship was the talent at the linebackers. Alabama returned three solid contributors in Christian Harris, Christopher Allen, and Ryan Anderson this season. The Tide also has former Tennessee Volunteers transfer Henry To’o To’o coming in as the immediate replacement for Dylan Moses. The biggest strength of the defense this season became more dangerous for opposing offenses. Anderson looks to be one of the best pass rushers in the nation as a first-team preseason all-American. Harris has developed the most this off-season, despite being a two-year starter. Allen’s experience and To’o To’o’s leadership and talent are a bonus for the Tide’s defense that looks to rebound after some inefficiencies last season.
Who Are The Leaders On Offense?
Last year, there was no question of who the leaders of the offense were. Jones and Smith came into 2020 looking to rebound after missing the playoffs for the first time in 2019. Those two helped the Tide rebound in a significant way by creating an elite, high-power offense. Alabama is not looking to replace the playmaking abilities of Jones and Smith, but rather their leadership roles. Junior Evan Neal moves from right tackle to left tackle to protect the blindside. Junior John Metchie III comes into this season as the new #1 wide receiver for the Tide’s elite passing offense. These are two players that come to mind quickly based on NFL talent and immediate impact. Based on seniority, Brian Robinson and center Chris Owensare two that can be relied upon. Young also has potential despite the lack of experience.
Who Will Be The Providers At Cornerback?
The loss of Patrick Surtain II as the top coverage cornerback has been difficult a difficult adjustment for the Tide. Senior cornerback Josh Jobe has been the suitable replacement as the number one cornerback in 2021. The most deciding factor for the Tide’s secondary would be who the other main cornerbacks are this season. Junior Jayln Armour-Davis has been projected to start at the other cornerback position since the conclusion of the 2020 season. He has been developing well this off-season as he looks to be one of the top-man coverage players in the SEC. One of the most discussed players on Alabama’s defense this off-season is true freshman cornerback Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry. He is a player that constantly gets praised by first-team defensive players, head coach Nick Saban, and defensive coordinator Pete Golding. He could be a big-time contributor or surprise starter in 2021.