Heading into the season opener Saturday night the University of Alabama Football team has drawn plenty of comparisons to the squad of 2010.
Off the top of my head I’ve heard: “It is going to be tough to replace the kind of impact Trent Richardson had on offense,” “They’ve lost too many core players on defense” and “They’re going to have a rebuilt secondary that will struggle early.”
Whoa. Let’s pump the breaks for a little bit.
First off when you were in school and broke a pencil, you didn’t freak out. No, you just reached into your pencil case (all the cool kids had them) and pulled out another one. It’s a pretty similar philosophy at Alabama when it comes to running backs. When Mark Ingram left, Trent Richardson just took over. Now as Richardson has departed, Eddie Lacy will take control.
However, Lacy doesn’t have to do it all himself. Coach Nick Saban has stated earlier this fall that he plans on using 5 running backs this season in some way or another. And while some players at other schools are looking to be “the man” and carry the ball 30 times a game, there is a genuine selflessness in this unit, where each back will sacrifice personal statistics for the good of team.
Moving on to the defense, yes, Alabama lost a good amount of talent of the defensive side of the ball, losing guys like: Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, and Dre Kirkpatrick. However, from what I remember they’ve also recruited pretty well over the past five seasons. Five seasons of consensus top 3 recruiting classes has built plenty of depth for the Crimson Tide that was not present in 2010.
With depth comes an opportunity to let impact recruits play right away, while the remainder of the class is allowed to grow and develop as freshman and sophomores, and then make an impact as juniors and seniors. From Adrian Hubbard to Xzavier Dickson, the players who move into starting roles have plenty of situational experience in previous seasons; they have just been waiting patiently in the wings.
Finally when it comes to Alabama’s secondary this season, it falls into the same category as the rest of the defense. With the exception of Deon Belue, all of the players who have been working with the first unit are in at least their second season with the Tide and have playing time under their belt. And just because they are only sophomores, don’t discount safeties Vinnie Sunseri and Ha Ha Clinton Dix, both of whom made significant impacts for the Tide in 2011.
Truth is, in 2010 it wasn’t so much about the personnel on the field but rather the mindset of some of the team leaders. Many of the players were happy with what they had accomplished the previous year and were enjoying the spoils of victory, maybe even a little too much. However, this year that wont be the case.
“I think this team is different from the team in the past in a lot of different ways. Everyone is going to say if the team doesn’t play well its because they feel entitled” head coach Nick Saban stated.
“But I can tell you from the way they showed up to fall camp, to conditioning tests being the tops we’ve ever had, and their work ethic that if this team isn’t successful it wont be because of their character and attitude. It’s going to be because of the inexperience in key positions.”
As Saban stated the attitude and mindset surrounding this team is far different than that of the teams in the past and it is noticeable in everything from the body language on the practice field to how they speak in the media room. This team is focused. This team is ready to create their own identity.
I don’t care if you think Alabama will go undefeated or slip up to the likes of Arkansas, LSU, or even Missouri. Say whatever you want. Just don’t say this team is comparable to the 2010 team.