Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta
Time: 5:30 p.m/ ET on ESPN
The two-time defending champions look to start their trek towards a three-peat vs. the Hokies in what could turn out to be a pretty one-sided affair. Virginia Tech is dealing with injuries and has one of the game’s biggest enigmas at quarterback in Logan Thomas. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide has little to worry about in their opener outside of chemistry along the offensive line.
When Alabama has the ball:
A.J. McCarron is back for a chance at a third title and could shatter school records in the process. He’ll be throwing to Amari Cooper and handing the ball off to T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and a host of versatile backs. Alabama lost three All-Americans from last year’s offensive line, but could have two new ones in left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony Steen. This unit could put up 35 points by halftime.
Virginia Tech isn’t bad on defense pe se and Bud Foster has some talent to work with — namely Jack Tyler at linebacker, Kyle Fuller at cornerback and James Gayle – but the opposition is simply too deep and talented to defend for four quarters. The loss of Antone Exum hurts, but even if he was healthy, I don’t think Alabama would be held below 40 points.
When Virginia Tech has the ball:
Thomas was supposed to be the top quarterback in the nation last year in the eyes of several scouts, but after a season with 16 interceptions and completing just 51 percent of his passes, the shine is off the 6-foot-6, 260-pound quarterback. Outside of having a disappointing quarterback, Tech has to settle on the offensive line, find a consistent ground game (which was absent after David Wilson departed), and establish a go-to receiver.
This is far too many questions heading into a game against the top team in the country.
Alabama has the best group of linebackers in the country with Mosley and Adrian Hubbard poised for All-American seasons, and both are on the Butkus award watch list. This will be a game to fine tune the secondary with Geno Smith suspended and to establish a pass rush in preparation for their Sept. 12 game at Texas A&M more than anything. Virginia Tech just can’t compete with Nick Saban’s team.
Tickets are available for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game for as low as $81. Also, you can grab seats in the 100 level for only $135 so it’s not too late to see Bama vs. Virginia Tech this weekend at the Georgia Dome.