As SEC Media Days near closer and closer, this can only mean one thing: football season is upon us. After a 10-2 2022 season that was widely considered to be a disappointment, you could probably come up with 1,000 questions facing the Alabama Crimson Tide this season. For your sake, I narrowed it down to five. And since I’m feeling really generous today, we’ll get the biggest one out of the way first:
1. Who the heck is going to play quarterback?
Bryce Young is not coming through that door, that much we know. For that matter, neither is Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, or Mac Jones. Nick Saban is in a spot where barring something unforeseen, Alabama is not going to have elite quarterback play for the first time in the better part of a decade. Does that mean the team can’t be successful? No, but it will be different.
Things came t0 a fever pitch with this question after Alabama brought in Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner following the spring game. Buchner’s career at Notre Dame was meh at best, raising the alarm as to what Nick Saban and Tommy Rees think of what was already on the roster at the position. At this point, whoever wins the job is anyone’s guess, but I tend to lean towards Jalen Milroe, at least at the start of the season.
2. Will the offensive line improve?
This one kind of goes along with the fact that Bryce Young is not returning. There is no magician in the pocket anymore. For Alabama to compete for a championship this season, the line must improve. They Lose Tyler Steen, Emil Ekiyor, and Javion Cohen to the draft, but return some solid talent as well.
JC Latham is one of the best tackles in the nation, as well as returning three other guys with experience in Seth McLaughlin, Darrian Dalcourt, and Tyler Booker. The wild card is 5-star freshman tackle Kadyn Proctor, who could be too good to keep off the field and very well may end up opposite Latham at one of the tackle spots. If not, versatile redshirt freshman Elijah Pritchett likely steps in. The offensive line looks to be in a great spot.
3. Can Kevin Steele get Alabama back to playing elite defense?
Before last season, we were discussing whether or not the 2022 unit was Nick Saban’s most talented defense ever on paper. Not only was this not true, but they flopped in the biggest moments of the season, not being able to come up with needed stops in either of the two losses for the Tide.
I’m a huge believer in what Steele brings to the program in Alabama’s quest to turn back the clock in 2023. All the tools are in the shed for Alabama to have an elite defense this season, and a change from Pete Golding was necessary. Let’s see what Steele does.
4. Can the wide receivers develop?
This is not to say the pass catching group in 2022 was bad. Talent wise, it was certainly still near the top in the country. But the standard that had been set in Tuscaloosa at the position in the previous five years or so was so ridiculously high that Alabama was due for a regression.
Whether or not there is a first-round talent in this group remains to be seen, but I think players like Isaiah Bond, Kobe Prentice, Ja’Corey Brooks, Jermaine Burton, and Kendrick Law all step up this season. Throw in the wild card of Malik Benson and Alabama could have a great group of pass catchers.
5. Can anyone catch Georgia?
Sure, this isn’t technically an Alabama question, and the Crimson Tide may have bigger fish to fry before even worrying about the Dawgs (say maybe, winning the SEC West), but it needs to be asked. Georgia is primed to try for college football’s first 3-peat since the 1930s and it’s the biggest storyline of the season.
If Alabama has a similar 2023 to their 2022 season, you have to think that the Bulldogs chances of making history go up by quite a bit. If Alabama can return to form this season, however, you have to think the Tide have the best chance of stopping the 3-peat.