We’re now in the middle of August. It’s that time of year again across all levels of football when position battles are being won, players are grinding through two-a-days and fans are getting excited as the opening kickoff is two weeks away.
It’s also that time of year when Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is tirading around Crimson Tide camp, saying controversial statements to the media about how his team is playing sloppy, lazy and inconsistent football. You know, legendary coach Saban. Talking about how unfocused his team has been by missing tackles, not shedding blocks, blown assignments, no pad level, no gap integrity, not wrapping up, coughing up the football, nobody is flying to the ball, not blocking till the whistle blows. You probably get the point. The usual, comical at times, Saban rants we have seen for many years that come out of Alabama fall camp.
We’ve seen them time and time again from the ultra-perfectionist Saban in his tenure in Tuscaloosa. Telling the media of how embarrassing it has been watching his team practice, and how they have a long way to go before the start of the season, etc.
However, last week the seven-year Alabama, defensive grandmaster, head coach shrugged off any notion this year’s club has disappointed him or failed to exceed his expectations the last two weeks of fall camp.
This has to be a first for the 61-year-old Saban, who has won two straight championships and three of the past four after claiming another one as LSU’s head coach in 2003.
If Nick Saban, of all people, doesn’t have displeasure about what has transpired from his team so far from fall camp.
Why should anybody doubt this team going forward?
This is a 2013 Crimson Tide team that was ranked first in the latest USA Today poll, media’s pick to win its second consecutive national championship and fourth national championship in a five year window.
The squad certainly doesn’t look as if they’re going to lose their edge this season after winning last season’s championship like the 2010 team did when they went 10-3 after winning the crown over the Texas in 2009.
Saban was quoted as saying that he thinks this team’s skill-set will rival the best he’s had in his tenure in the Heart of Dixie.
The Tide’s great chance of winning a three-peat will be in the hands of fifth year senior quarterback, A.J. McCarron, who’s 25-2 as a starter including two championship victories as the signal caller. Often regarded as a good game manager in Alabama offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier’s pro-style offense, he’s thrown for 5,956 yards and 49 touchdowns as a starter for two seasons for the Crimson Tide. There’s no reason not to think that McCarron won’t have a Heisman campaign in the crimson and white in 2013.
Alabama’s offense also returns physical, bruising sophomore tailback T.J. Yeldon who ran for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns after backing up former starter, current Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy. The receiver corps of Armani Cooper, 1,000 yard receiver in his freshman year last season, Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell, and DeAndrew White could be the best in college football. Right guard Anthony Steen and left tackle, Cyrus Kouandijo are the only returners for first-year offensive line coach, Mario Cristobal. This will be the biggest question mark for Saban’s offense, that has been nicknamed “O-Line U” by some around college football.
And for defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart’s group returns linebackers C.J. Mosley, Xzavier Dickson, Trey DePriest, Adrian Hubbard and cornerback Ha’Sean Clinton Dix. Alabama’s defense has led the nation in total defense the last two seasons and has been in the top five for the last five seasons. It doesn’t seem as if that will falter any bit from seasons past.
With the program’s tradition and incredible success it has witnessed in the Nick Saban era, it is not a long fetch to predict that Alabama will journey to Pasadena come January.
Because if Nick Saban says his team is great in August then there’s no telling what Alabama’s limit is come this Fall.