Monday, July 9, 2012
One good reason: Alabama
By Edward Aschoff
Everyone thinks they have all the answers and reasons for why their team will win each year. But for me, it’s all about being objective and offering you my reasons why your team will excel and why it won’t.
It’s a gift and curse, really.
Well, I'm taking a page out of ACC blogger Heather Dinich's book and looking at one good reason why each team in the SEC will win and why each won't.
Some teams will give their fan bases more hope to make 2012 a pretty darn good year, while some might have their followers a little more worried.
Let's begin things with the defending champs:
Alabama will repeat as national champions: The offense will be more explosive.
Yes, All-World running back Trent Richardson is gone, but that doesn't mean that the Crimson Tide offense won't be as intimidating. In fact, it might be more balanced and more explosive without him in the lineup. Quarterback AJ McCarron is a year older and the coaches hope wiser. Coach Nick Saban really does want to let him loose. He wants to see more of a downfield passing game and he knows that McCarron has the talent to do all that and more for Alabama. The question is if he can get over some of the silly mistakes he tends to make by trying to press and do too much.
Regardless, an older, more experienced McCarron is a good thing for the Tide. He'll be equipped with some younger receivers, but the coaches expect to get more home run power out of them, starting with the true freshmen from this year's recruiting class. Chris Black and Amari Cooper both enrolled early this spring and showed off solid playmaking ability. The thought is that they'll open things up more in the passing game and spread the field more for McCarron. Also, highly-touted incoming freshman Eddie Williams will get his chance at wide receiver. Sophomore DeAndrew White could be a big-time deep threat with all that speed he possesses. Also, tight end Michael Williams can really be a beast on the field. The coaches are expecting even more from him this fall.
The Tide is still stacked at running back, too. Bruising Eddie Lacy takes over as the lead back, while he'll get help from talented freshman T.J. Yeldon, a monster in Jalston Fowler and speedster Dee Hart. The thing Alabama will be able to do is get multiple backs on the field more this year by putting guys like Yeldon and Hart out wide at times.
Also, Alabama returns arguably the nation's best offensive line. That will give McCarron more time and help generate steam for that running game.
Why it won't: Too much defensive talent and leadership is gone.
It's not like Alabama doesn't have a lot of talent on defense, but there's no denying that this team lost a lot from last year's defense. Seven starters, including three first-round draft picks, are gone. Courtney Upshaw, Dont'a Hightower and Josh Chapman weren't just relied on for their playing ability. They were major leaders for this team, and that's something Saban has said he needs to see more of from this group.
These defenders say they're motivated by the comparisons to 2010, but that group also didn't lack in talent. It did lack in the leadership department and that's currently a concern for this unit. Linebackers Nico Johnson, C.J. Mosley and Adrian Hubbard are guys who have to step up more and not just lead by example. Veteran safety Robert Lester will be counted on more and so will senior defensive linemen Jesse Williams and Damion Square.
The secondary is also replacing three regular starters, which could be worrisome at times. The overall talent of this defense is still pretty solid and it'll still be tough to move against the Tide, but for this unit to avoid the mental mistakes that hurt Alabama's defense back in 2010, the maturity level and the leadership has to increase during fall camp.