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2007 Alabama Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 30, 2007


Preview 2007 Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide

Preview 2007


By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Bama Offense Preview | 2007 Bama Defense Preview
-
2007 Bama Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Alabama Preview 

Playtime is over at Alabama. 

Oh sure, it’s been fun to poke the bear, the legend of the Bear, and the Tide program for the last few seasons, given the coaching fiascos of Dennis Franchione bolting to Texas A&M and the bizarre issues with Mike DuBose and Mike Price. Now things have gotten serious with the hiring of Nick Saban, and for Tide fans who think their program is among the elite of the elite, it’s time to start winning SEC titles again.

Head coach: Nick Saban
1st year at Alabama
12th year overall: 91-42-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 24, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Alabama Players
1.
OT Andre Smith, Soph.
2. CB Simeon Castille, Sr.
3. WR D.J. Hall, Sr.
4. LB Prince Hall, Soph.
5. QB John Parker Wilson, Jr.
6. WR Keith Brown, Sr.
7. OG Justin Britt, Sr.
8. DE Wallace Gilberry, Sr.
9. DE Bobby Greenwood, Jr.
10. C Antoine Caldwell, Jr.
   

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5

Sept. 1

Western Carolina

Sept. 8

at Vanderbilt

Sept. 15

Arkansas

Sept. 22

Georgia

Sept. 29

Florida St
(in Jackson.)

Oct. 6

Houston

Oct. 13

at Ole Miss

Oct. 20

Tennessee

Nov. 3

LSU

Nov. 10

at Mississippi St

Nov. 17

UL Monroe

Nov. 24

at Auburn

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
7-5
2005 Record:
6-6
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/2 Hawaii W 25-17
9/9 Vanderbilt W 13-10
9/16 UL Monroe W 41-7
9/23 at Ark. L 24-23 2OT
9/30 at Florida L 28-13
10/7 Duke W 30-14
10/14 Ole Miss 26-23 OT
10/21 at Tennessee L 16-13
10/28 FIU W 38-3
11/4 Miss State L 26-14
11/11 at LSU L 28-14
11/18 Auburn L 22-15
12/28 Independence Bowl
Oklahoma State L 34-31

It’s not like Alabama was bad under Mike Shula, but there was a sense that things were slipping a bit, even if some rebuilding was needed after going 10-2 in 2005 and winning the Cotton Bowl. In 2006, Florida won the national title, LSU firmly entrenched itself as a superpower, and Arkansas (freakin’ Arkansas!) won the SEC West. All that might have been forgivable…if the Tide hadn’t lost to Auburn for a fifth straight season.

So how fast can Saban turn things around? While the team will be far better, thanks to a more experienced offense, a better line and a Saban-type defense that should quickly become one of the SEC’s nastiest, it’s not like the rest of the league got worse. Florida, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, and yes, even Auburn are all as good, if not better, and as South Carolina has shown over the last two seasons, just having a superior coach doesn’t mean the best conference in America is going to start quaking.

Instead of seeing Saban as an instant savior, consider him the spark that might set off the explosion. Even the most impatient of Bama fans know it might take a year to get the Tide rolling again. Come 2008, when the offense will be full of seniors, the defense will have had a year under Saban, and a shockingly good, brought-together-at-the-last-second recruiting class will have had time to get its feet wet, Alabama might actually beat Auburn again.


What to watch for on offense: Air Tide. Hurt by a young line that didn’t provide any room for the running game to move, Alabama ended up going to the passing attack more often than anyone might have liked. For all the rocky times and inconsistencies, last year allowed John Parker Wilson to get a good first look at what life as an SEC starter is like. With D.J. Hall and Keith Brown (two of the SEC’s most unappreciated receivers) as targets, Bama should be able to bomb away with anyone in the conference. 

What to watch for on defense: Aggressiveness to the nth degree. Every defense likes to attack, and last year’s Tide defense was no different, but it didn’t get the play from the line it needed to be effective. There was no pass rush, and little consistent push into the backfield. That won’t happen under Saban, who was a master at bringing out the best in the front fours at LSU, and should get Tide rushers behind the line early and often. Which is why …

The team will be far better if … it sacks somebody. Thirteen sacks and 55 tackles for loss. That’s not exactly the type of defensive play the Tide was looking for from the defensive front last year, so job one for Saban and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will be to make sure those numbers double, if not triple. A move from a 4-3 to a 3-4 will try to make that happen.

The Schedule: If the Tide can roll at home, it’ll be a great season. The three SEC road games before the season finale at Auburn are as easy as can be, against Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. There’s a neutral site date with Florida State in Jacksonville to save the non-conference slate from being considered a total joke. The real excitement is over the home slate, which features Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU in SEC play.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore OT Andre Smith. At 6-4 and 348 pounds, he's a huge body at left tackle, and he's living up to every bit of the hype. Considered by some to be the number one recruit in America last year, he stepped in and was a rock from day one. Several NFL teams would love to have him right now.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Simeon Castille. The centerpiece of the Tide defense, Castille will erase one side of the field and be the first player most quarterbacks look for when they step up to the line. He’s big, has a nose for the ball, and is good at getting into the backfield when needed.

Key players to a successful season: Senior DEs Wallace Gilberry and junior Bobby Greenwood. Steady pressure into the backfield has to start coming from the ends, so the coaching staff doesn’t have to get cute and send in the linebackers. The ends have the size and quickness to get into the backfield, but now they have to do a better job of closing. They also have to figure out what they’re doing. The new defense isn’t rocket science, but it’ll take time to figure out the overall roles.

The season will be a success if ... The Tide wins nine games. It’s not going to be easy considering all the tough games, but almost all are at home. If they can pull out a win over Florida State, they’ll have four wins alone from the non-conference schedule. Anything less than 5-3 in SEC play will be considered a major disappointment.

Key game: Nov. 24 at Auburn. It’s easy to point to the rivalry game with Tennessee, the Saban showdown with LSU, or even the interesting battle against Florida State as showcase games, but after losing five straight to that “cow college,” Saban has to turn the tide in the Iron Bowl series to show that things really have changed under the new regime.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Alabama points allowed by quarter: 1st 44, 2nd 102, 3rd 46, 4th 48
- Penalties: Opponents 90 for 732 yards; Alabama 78 for 557 yards
- Sacks: Opponents 28 for 204 yards; Alabama 13 for 100 yards

  

Related Stories
2007 Alabama Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Alabama Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Alabama Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007








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