2019 College Football Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide

Head Coach: Nick Saban

2018 Record: 14-1, 8-0 Conference

Playoffs: 16-44 Loss to Clemson in National Title Game

O/U 11 wins (O -180, U +150)

To Make Final 4: Yes -325, No +250

The Alabama Crimson Tide played nearly a perfect season, but its lone loss came at the most costly time, falling 16-44 to Clemson in the National Title game. Alabama enters 2019 with seven new coaches, and head coach Nick Saban had not lost a game by 14 points or more over his entire time at Bama. Alabama’s defense will always put it a notch above all other SEC contenders, but it showed a rare moment of mortality last season that has the rest of the NCAA still smelling blood.


Heisman runner-up Too Tagovailoa returns at quarterback, and he again has a choice of the best receivers to air it out with. Uncharacteristically, there are some issues to be settled with handoffs though, with plenty of five-star recruits vying to be the No. 1 back in the offense. Tagovailoa threw for nearly 4,000 yards last year with 43 TD passes, and his instincts alone make him one of the best quarterbacks in the NCAA. Jerry Juedy averaged 19.3 yards-per-catch last season as the top receiver, scoring 14 TDs (nearly a one-per-game average). Juedy is a problem for even the best secondaries, and Henry Ruggs III and Jaylen Waddle are both consistent matchup nightmares for defenses. DeVonta Smith is rock solid and consistent.

Tua has plenty of choices for his passes, and Alabama will be good at running back even if the matter remains unsettled. It lost two very good ones in Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs, both departing for the NFL, but Najee Harris should be ready to fill their shoes. He was the No. 3 back a year ago, averaging 6.7 yards-per-attempt. While he is not a tremendous big playmaker (his longest run was 32-yards), he is very consistent and will function as the primary ball carrier. Brian Robinson will be a viable option this year after mostly functioning as a kickoff returner last season. True freshman Trey Sanders is a five-star recruit but he will have to earn his playing time even so. On the OL, Alex Leatherwood moves back to left tackle and the guard and center spots are still being settled. It is not a huge concern, as this is one of the Rolling Tide’s perpetual strengths, the offensive line.


The losses of Quinnen Williams, Mack Wilson, and Deionte Thompson are fairly substantial ones. But the Tide once again brought in a top recruiting class. One of the biggest issues may be a new one to Alabama: a lack of depth. Raekwon Davis is a 6’7” defensive end who has the athleticism and talent to be an All-Conference selection. LaBryan Rya and Phidarian Mathis will get a chance now, and true freshmen DJ Dale and Antonio Alfonso will be big players in the defense, as well. The depth issues are another matter to tackle, so to speak.

The linebacker positions also lack some depth to a degree. Dylan Moses is the lone returning starter, and Ale Kaho, Joshua McMillon, and Martial Benton will all vie for playing time at a position that is vital in the Bama defense. Saban uses the middle linebackers to make a lot of defensive plays, so whichever option steps up as the best playmaker will claim the role. Terrell Lewis is a great pass rusher, but he tore his ACL in 2018 and was not fully ready in spring. Anfernee Jennings enters his senior season and his experience will prove valuable to the defensive unit.

The secondary will feature cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Trevon Diggs. Xavier McKinney will be the safety, while Shyheim Carter also will see time at safety. Carter also could fill the Star position as the fifth defensive back in nickel and dime lineups.

Special Teams

The Crimson Tide had a big problem with place-kickers last year, missing nine PATs. Joseph Bulovas missed six of those but he was a respectable 14 of 18 on field goals. Will Reichard will compete for his job, and he was one of the best prep kickers so it is possible or even likely he steals it. He also can punt. Kick returns will be handled by Brian Robinson and Jaylen Waddle is a great punt return option once again. It is the kicking that needs to be fixed.

Final Word

Alabama really realized its own mortality with the blowout loss in the title game, but that should only motivate Tua and company. This is still the team to beat in the SEC, and Alabama enters the season ranked No. 1 in AP plus again. It will aim for nothing less than a National Title, already possessing five of those under Nick Saban.

Prediction: 12 wins (over)

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