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NCAA Football Alabama Crimson TideSEC Football

Expectations Remain High for Alabama Crimson Tide

John David Mercer, USA TODAY SPORTS

The Alabama Crimson Tide are enjoying the ride atop the college football world right now. After all, ‘Bama has won two BCS National Championships in a row, three of the last four, and fans in T-Town (that’s Tuscaloosa for those not from there) are hoping that head coach Nick Saban can bring yet another title home in 2013.

Are the expectations for the 2013 version of the Tide too high? After all, this team lost several key players from last year’s squad. Three former Tide players (Dee MillinerChance Warmack and D.J. Fluker) were taken in the top-11 picks of the NFL Draft. A total of nine former Alabama players were drafted over the three-day selection process.

But as Saban has learned, expectations are always high in Tuscaloosa, no matter who has come and gone, and this team does have plenty of talent returning.

It starts at the quarterback position, where A.J. McCarron returns behind center. Last season, McCarron connected on 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,933 yards, with 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

McCarron will have plenty of help on offense, led by sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon. Last season, Yeldon showed his playmaking ability by rushing 175 times for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns. Yeldon proved to be the “lightning” behind former Tide running back Eddie Lacy, who was more of the “thunder” of the two backs.

As if one stud freshman wasn’t enough, Alabama had a second one in wide receiver Amari Cooper, who had more than twice as many receptions (59) as any other Alabama player last season. Cooper had exactly 1,000 yards receiving in 14 games, and he added a team-high 11 touchdowns.

Saban’s Alabama teams have been known for their defenses, and this year’s team should be no different. Despite losing several big names, the Tide actually returns three of last year’s top five tacklers, including C.J. Mosley, who led Alabama with 107 stops in 2012. Trey DePriest was second on the team last season with 59 tackles, while Vinnie Sunseri was fifth with 54 stops.

Also returning on defense are playmakers Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Adrian Hubbard. Clinton-Dix led ‘Bama with five interceptions last season, while Hubbard led the team in sacks with seven.

Despite significant losses, it appears that Saban has reloaded once again. Don’t be surprised to see the Crimson Tide rolling into yet another BCS Championship Game.