The Alabama Crimson Tide are looking to redeem themselves from a 2019 season where they missed out on a major bowl game or a playoff game since 2010. To get themselves back in the playoff hunt, they must solve some questions whenever they are allowed to get back to training camp. All programs are sitting and waiting right now based on the Coronavirus situation, so no one has a time advantage over others. Still, coaching staffs are not sitting idly by. They have to be thinking about improvements that need to be made, regardless of not getting any on-field time right now. Whatever the immediate future hold, there are a lot of questions for Alabama to answer.
Questions For Alabama To Answer
Who Are The Quarterback Candidates?
The Tide are looking for their first new starting quarterback since the 2016 College Football season. Several quarterbacks are in play. Only three of them have a realistic shot of winning the starting quarterback position when the season kicks off in the fall. In 11 games played in this past season, Mac Jones filled in as the starter for four games. Jones will be the most experienced quarterback for the Tide. Sophomore Taulia Tagovailoa played very sparingly behind Jones and his older brother Tua Tagovailoa. He shows potential but has yet to get an edge in the practices over Jones. True freshman Bryce Young comes into as the highest recruited quarterback since Tua. He has dynamic play making ability as a dual-threat quarterback. Young could make the competition extend to the summer and then fall.
Could We See Some Linebacker Switches?
The Crimson Tide experienced serious losses before last season with injuries to middle linebackers Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillion for the year. Moses was a long-time starter and McMillion was entering his first full year as the starter. The Tide had to rely on two true freshmen in Shane Lee and Christian Harris to help lead the defense. Lee and Harris were two of their top 10 recruited players from the 2019 recruiting class. Now they are left with four inside linebackers in a defense that two inside linebacker spots. The Tide also need two linebackers to start on the outside linebacker position. There might be a scenario where a pass rush specialist like Lee could switch on the outside due to crowded inside linebacker slots. Last season, Lee was third on the team in sacks accounted for with 4.5 sacks.
Which New Receiver Steps Up?
Every year during the Spring, there is a wide receiver for Alabama that outperforms some of the first-team receivers. True freshman John Metchie was the receiver last year where he caught five receptions for 133 yards in the A-Day game. During the season, he only accounted for four receptions for 23 yards as he was buried in the depth chart. This upcoming season, he expects to be one of the top three receivers. A player like sophomore Slade Bolden could be the receiver to step up and provide support for the other receivers. Bolden played in seven games but only caught two receptions for 34 yards. Four-star receivers in Thaiu Jones-Bell and Traeshon Holden who enrolled early as true freshmen.
Who Will Play The Nickel Corner?
The star nickel position is one of the important positions for the Crimson Tide’s defense. Last season, Shyheim Carter accumulated 73 total tackles (seventh highest on the team) and seven pass deflections (third on the team). This player needs to highly efficient zone coverage and man coverage player as well as balanced field tackler. Cornerback Patrick Surtain II was the most talented coverage player last season, who could play outside and inside corner. He filled in at star nickel a few times a game. If Surtain needs to be the main corner, that job could go to redshirt sophomore Jalyn Armour-Davis. Last season, Armour-Davis only played in two games, who accumulated two pass deflections. Junior Ronald Williams, junior Eddie Smith, and redshirt junior Daniel Wright are also up for the position.
Status Of The A-Day Game
With many sporting spring events canceled or postponed, there is a serious concern for all other sports. Some college football programs have begun moving their practices or making them private. Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne announced that all athletic events up to March 30th have been close off from public attendance. If the COVID-19, aka Coronavirus, gets worse, there may be likely a spring scrimmage closed off to the public or postponed. Attendance will already be limited to 30,000 to 35,000 due to ongoing construction at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Like with most schools, what happens to Spring practice at Bama is very much TBD. They were just an hour away from the start of Spring practice this last week, when the suddenly announced, in conjunction with the SEC, that all activity would be suspended until further notice.
Right now, it looks like April 15th is the earliest the SEC would be ready to re-start. The Tide would of course need a significant camp schedule before even thinking about a Spring scrimmage. And attendance at that game is a very TBD subject as well. The University and athletics have not ruled anything out yet but they know there could be problems when a big crowd gathering with a pandemic occurring. The game would be fully featured online at SEC Network+ with portions of the game being featured on SEC Network.