Preview 2007 - Offense
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2006 CFN Alabama
What you need to know: Major
Applewhite takes over as offensive coordinator and will play
around with several different formations and ideas, while trying
to stick with Nick Saban's run-first philosophy. He'll
incorporate a little bit of spread and four-wide sets. There's
one problem; Bama might not have the backs to run well on a
consistent basis. The strength is in the passing game with the
great 1-2 receiving tandem of D.J. Hall and Keith Brown working
with rising passer John Parker Wilson. The line welcomes back
five starters led by soon to be All-Everything tackle Andre
Passing: John Parker Wilson
216-379, 2,707 yds, 17 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Jimmy Johns
66 carries, 293 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: D.J. Hall
62 catches, 1,056 yds, 5 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore OT Andre Smith
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
RB Terry Grant
Unsung star on the rise: Grant
Best pro prospect: Smith
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Smith, 2) WR D.J. Hall, 3)
QB John Parker Wilson
Strength of the offense: Wide receivers, offensive line
Weakness of the offense: Overall depth
Projected Starter: Junior John Parker Wilson
is a better quarterback than you think. Thrown into a tough
situation with no reliable running game and shaky pass
protection, he came through with a nice year throwing for 2,707
yards with 17 touchdown passes and ten interceptions. While he
struggled a bit down the stretch, throughout the year he showed
he could grow into a top SEC quarterback with a live enough arm
to get the ball deep. A decent runner, he'll get to take off a
little more with a little bit of spread offense thrown into the
Projected Top Reserve: There's no threat to Wilson
for the starting job, but 6-2, 216-pound redshirt freshman
Greg McElroy needs to see time just to get some sort of
experience in case of an emergency. A runner as well as a
passer, he has a good enough combination of talents to do all
the things the coaching staff wants to do.
Watch Out For ... Wilson to flourish under the new
coaching staff. He started to show signs of being a major player
last year, and now with the right tutelage, he should become and
effective leader who can carry the offense.
Strength: Wilson's quick grasp of the offense. He wasn't
razor sharp throughout the spring, but that was to be expected.
He limited his mistakes and was good enough to allow the
coaching staff to throw more at him.
Weakness: Backups. Uh-oh. With Jimmy Barnes
transferring, there's no experience whatsoever behind Wilson,
which might mean a concerted effort to limit his running early
on until the reserves can get their feet wet. Greg McElroy was
the only reserve this spring on scholarship.
Outlook: John Parker Wilson won't get the
attention of other more heralded, flashier SEC quarterbacks, but
he could be the most effective. No one in the league will have
more pressure on his shoulders to carry the offense, at least
for the first month or so. He'll be asked to do a lot more from
several different formations, and he appears to be up to the
task. The opportunity is there for someone to take over the
number two job.
Projected Starters: For the moment, 5-9, 184-pound
sophomore Terry Grant will be the starter, but he'll find
himself part of a rotation and won't be a workhorse. A very
quick back with more of pop than his size would suggest, he
missed most of last year with a shoulder injury, finishing with
just 22 yards on two carries, and then came out roaring, at
times, this spring. He needs to become an effective 10-to-15
carry back and a reliable receiver.
With the loss of top fullbacks Le'Ron McClain and Tim Castille,
sophomore Baron Huber will take over. At 6-4 and 252
pounds, he's a tall blocker who spent most of his high school
career at defensive end. Banged up with an ankle problem
throughout last season, he wasn't able to develop.
Projected Top Reserves: The offense needs 6-2,
227-pound junior Jimmy Johns to quickly get back in the
mix after missing time this off-season with academic issues. A
productive power runner who averaged 4.4 yards per carry last
season on 66 carries, he ran for 293 yards and a score. He'll be
the thunderback in mix, trying to power the ball between the
tackles to loosen things up.
Trying to find time will be sophomore Roy Upchurch, a
promising runner who came to Alabama with an amazing high school
résumé, but hasn't been able to do much yet after missing most
of last year with an ankle injury. At the moment, he's the
likely number four back, depending on the day, and how well
sophomore Glen Coffee is running. A big back with decent
quickness, he'll get a few carries here and there if he can stay
healthy after injuring his pelvis two years ago and his knee
Watch Out For ... Grant. Everyone expected Johns
to be the number one man, but after he didn't get his shot this
spring, Grant stepped in and appeared to be good enough to take
over the number one rushing job.
Strength: Size. Grant is the smallest of the foursome.
Johns provides the most power, but Upchurch and Coffee can plow
when they have to. Getting the short yards shouldn't be a
Weakness: Reliability. There isn't a whole bunch. Johns
has seen plenty of time over the last few years, but hasn't had
to be the main man. The classroom problems don't help the cause.
Grant, Upchurch and Coffee were all hurt last year.
Outlook: In a perfect world, there's a steady
rotation of the Jimmy Johns, who'll pound the ball, and Terry
Grant, who'll bring a little bit of dash. Unfortunately, there
isn't a special back on the roster to revolve the offense
around, so it'll be running back by committee in an attempt to
revive a ground game that didn't anything against a defense with
a pulse. Improved play from the offensive line will help the
cause, but the Bama backs will mostly complement the passing
Projected Starters: It's time for senior D.J.
Hall to get the respect he deserves as one of the nation's
best receivers. At 6-3 and 186 pounds, he has the size to go
along with good speed and loads of production. Fine, so he
disappeared for stretches over the second half of the year, and
he didn't score over the final six games, but he finished with
62 catches for 1,056 yards and five scores with seven 100-yard
performances. When the running game was going nowhere and
injuries were a problem in areas, he stepped up and carried the
attack. Oddly enough, Bama went 2-5 when he hit the century
Second on the team in receptions was 6-3, 204-pound senior
Keith Brown, who made 44 grabs for 590 yards and three
scores. Potentially the team's most dynamic receiver, he has to
get through a season healthy for the passing game to explode.
That could be a problem considering he's had issues with his
knee over the course of his career, but when he's right, he's a
big home-run hitter who creates a slew of matchup problems.
6-2, 264-pound junior Travis McCall returns after being
used sparingly as a target with eight catches for 105 yards and
a score. More of a blocker than a receiver, he'll be part of a
rotation and could eventually become more of a third down,
Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 189-pound senior
Matt Caddell stepped up his play this spring and emerged as
a leading candidate for the number three role while backing up
Brown. He caught 16 passes for 150 yards and two scores, and
while he's had a mildly productive career as a reserve, he has
to maximize all his talents. He's too fast and too experienced
to not be doing more.
Playing behind Hall will be 6-0, 204-pound junior Nikita
Stover after making 12 catches for 192 yards and two scores.
He did a whole lot of nothing throughout the season before
cranking out five grabs for 101 yards and a score against
Auburn. After a nice spring game, he's shown the ability to do
Soon to be a major playmaker is 6-2, 217-pound sophomore Mike
McCoy, who hasn't done anything yet on the field, but has
shown flashes of greatness in practice. One of the team's best
athletes, he should eventually grow into one of the team's top
receivers. That might not happen until next year.
Backing up McCall, and seeing plenty of action, will be 6-5,
270-pound junior Nick Walker. While he only caught three
passes for 39 yards, he came up with a touchdown in overtime
against Arkansas. He has the hands and athleticism to be use
more in the passing game, and the size to become a better
Watch Out For ... the tight ends to be used more.
Underutilized over the last two years, McCall and Walker will
become a bigger part of the new offense and should become steady
Strength: Size and experience. Brown and Hall are each
6-3 and each has shown the talent to make a slew of plays over
the last few seasons. As long as the two are healthy, they'll
explode and should take the pressure off each other.
Weakness: Explosive third receiver. Caddell has mostly
been a short to midrange target and Stover hasn't done it when
the lights are on. They have the talent to do more, and they'll
get the chance.
Outlook: It's not a stretch to call D.J. Hall and
Keith Brown the SEC's best 1-2 receiving punch, and they have a
good supporting cast around them. If the tight ends blossom as
expected, and more comes from the backups, the receiving corps
will be one of the team's biggest strengths.
Projected Starters: Sophomore Andre Smith
is the real deal. Considered by many to be among the nation's top
prospects last year, he didn't disappoint as a true freshman and is now
on the verge of superstardom. As it turned out, yes, he really was good
enough to go from high school to the pros. He's 6-4, 348 pounds, and
athletic, with great feet in pass protection. The team's most dominant
blocker, he also had a two-yard touchdown run against Oklahoma State in
the bowl game.
Next to Smith on the left side will once against by 6-4, 290-pound
senior Justin Britt, a starter at guard in every game and turned
into a durable all-around blocker. It helps that he gets to play
alongside Smith, but he's good in his own right. Now he has to do more
to make a difference for the running game.
Emerging as one of the SEC's best centers is 6-4, 288-pound junior
Antoine Caldwell, a durable, versatile blocker who's seen time over
his first two years at guard as well as in the middle. It took him all
of the last two years to grow into a top player, and now he's about to
become a star technician.
The right side is experienced, but it's not nearly as good as the left.
6-7, 283-pound senior Chris Capps has to overcome a shoulder
problem and has to be far, far better in pass protection. He has the
size and the experience to improve and be more of a positive.
Junior guard Marlon Davis had a decent year with four starts, and
while he's not quite the player Britt is on the other side, he can hold
his own. He showed tremendous promise, and at a strong 6-2 and 311
pounds, has the potential to grow into the role over the next two years.
Projected Top Reserves: A knee injury has kept
junior B.J. Stabler from being a regular part of the line like
he's supposed to be, but that could quickly change as he gets healthier.
He started at right guard over eight games before getting hurt, and when
all is said and done, could move to tackle.
6-2, 291-pound sophomore Evan Cardwell is great in the weight
room, and now he has to do more on the field. A versatile blocker who
could be moved to guard if needed, he'll start out behind Caldwell in
6-6, 268-pound sophomore Drew Davis won't see a whole bunch of
playing time behind Smith at left tackle and could end up moving to the
other side if needed. While undersized, he can move.
Watch Out For ... Smith to become special. He has
all the tools and all the potential, and he seems to be on the verge of
maximizing his skills very soon. He has top ten draft pick written all
Strength: Experience. With five starters returning, and
another in Stabler who'll step in somewhere when healthy. The overall
consistency should be better this year.
Weakness: Run blocking. The right side was a nightmare
at times in pass protection, but the real overall problem was generating
a push for the ground game. That needs to change from game one.
Outlook: New offensive line coach Joe Pendry has a
good combination of talent and experience to work with. Revolving around
Andre Smith, the line should grow into a strength as the season goes on
as long as everyone stays healthy. Depth is an issue, especially at
tackle, and, on the whole, there aren't enough battles for jobs, but
there should be an overall improvement from the uneven play of last