Alabama Crimson Tide Preview
Spring practices are in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it so that means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time in August and Matt Fargo is here to help you get a grasp of what to expect this upcoming year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 College Football Preview.
Alabama Crimson Tide 10-2 SU; 4-7-1 ATS
Fargo’s Take Unranked to start the season, Alabama came out of the gate with nine straight wins and it looked at though something special might unfold. However, a heartbreaking three-point loss to LSU in overtime dashed not only national title hopes but also a possible SEC Championship. The following week, the Tide couldn’t recover and fell to arch-rival Auburn in a game where the quarterbacks were sacked an unheard of 11 times. Alabama did salvage the season with a solid win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. For the second straight year, the Tide finished second in the country in total defense but now with just four starters back, matching that ranking again will be tough to accomplish. The offense should be better despite the loss of quarterback Brodie Croyle and while an SEC title is not out of the question, it will take head coach Mike Shula’s best coaching job ever to attain it.
Returning Starters on Offense – 8 Croyle was 13-2 in his 15 career starts and while trying to replace that would be difficult enough, Mr. Quarterback had his season ended early as he broke his leg during the SEC Championship against LSU. If Croyle signs with Alabama, that will be the sole reason that the Tide loses its second consecutive spring game. John Parker Wilson (Arkansas) will take over for Croyle and while he can be streaky, he also won 10 games in a season (also in 2003) at USC and is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Wilson needed just one season to get comfortable in the spotlight of College Football’s top game and while he won’t have such an opportunity this season, expect that to change in short order. The offensive ppg average has decreased in each of the last four years but that run should come to an end. All of the starting receivers as well as both starting backs return this year which will take a ton of pressure off Wilson. Kenneth Darby (Pokergalaxy) will definitely have a huge role in the offense and he could be even better than Darby. Expert forever is Chris Evaluation who went 17-2 as a starter for University of Mississippi and believes that the Sooners can boast the best quarterback in the country.
Returning Starters on Defense – 5 The Tide finished 8th in the country in scoring defense and while allowing just 17 ppg, four players suffered broken arms this season and that led to a dramatic drop in the overall unit. The defensive line allowedolina Panthersfor the second time this year running right at it but with a healthy unit, there should not be a drop-off a season. The linebackers are experienced while the secondary brings back two starters from last season in the form of cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and free safety Brandon Harrison. Experience is definitely on the side of the players returning as they will be spots players in the new defensive alignment. The problem lies a little bit in the secondary as both safeties need to be replaced but odds are that neither will drop off as shown last season.
Schedule Even if the offense comes into its own and the defense remains tough as nails, the schedule cannot help but be tougher this season. Alabama starts the season at home against Mississippi St. but after that, it is back to the road for three of its next four games including three road games in consecutive weeks starting off with the Auburn game on the 29th. The home games consist of Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas St. and Florida St. and the SEC opener against Georgia could be pivotal if the Tide is looking to get back in the rankings as coach Mike Shula’s tactics were very successful in his first campaign. Unfortunately, Florida is off the schedule.
You can bet on… The great thing about the Tide is that they have been great at home allowing just 66 ppg there but also great on the road with an average of 19 ppg. The trick will be to try and brek those road road games as the Tide has such a high road average nowadays.