Keys to the Season: Alabama Crimson Tide

With the College Football season on the horizon and the hopefully a full schedule awaiting us in 2021, we start to look at the teams most likely to feature at the sharp end of things. We hope to give you a brief look at a handful of hot topics that could dictate the success of their year. It could be a player stepping into a role, an apparent hole on the roster or a strength that opposition teams will struggle to deal with. 

First up, we start with National Champions Alabama, who, despite losing a large chunk of starters to the NFL, have the strength in depth to make another run at the title this season. Here are their keys to the season.

Saban’s Loaded Secondary Set To Shine

The NFL is littered with Alabama alumni and some of their premier talent has been in the secondary. Head Coach Nick Saban is well versed in defensive backs coaching and he excels in taking A+ athletes and producing elite, well drilled players ready to hit the ground running at the next level.

They remain loaded at the position this year. Both Malachi Moore and Brian Branch impressed during their freshman seasons in 2020. They return and look set to fill the nickel and hybrid safety/corner role respectively. Add in the experience of Josh Jobe and the talented safety Jordan Battle and there are very few weak spots for opposing QBs to target.

Perhaps the most interesting name to watch for is incoming freshman Ga’Quincy McKinstry. The in-state five-star corner looks set to be the next big thing in Tuscaloosa. An athletic freak with the requisite size (6’1, 180) to fill the outside corner role, he could cause a surprise and take early snaps despite the competition for spots. After a strong showing in Spring Ball the arrow is pointing up for the man they call ‘Kool-Aid’.

Freshman Help Needed In The Offensive Trenches

Both guard Deonte Brown and left tackle Alex Leatherwood moved on to the next level this offseason leaving a couple of large holes, figuratively and literally speaking, on the offensive line. The Tide have one of the most exciting prospects in the nation set to take over on the left side in Evan Neal. Even before the season has begun he has regularly been selected top 10 in way-too-early mock drafts.

While Chris Owens and Emil Ekiyor provide experience inside there is a question mark over the right tackle job. With Neal shifting sides it opens an opportunity for one of the younger members of the squad. Never short of talent, ‘Bama have two five star recruits likely to fight it out for the starting job.

There is plenty of time until opening day but JC Latham, a five star recruit out of the famed IMG Academy looks to be holding a slender lead in the battle. At 6’6, 325lbs, Latham is well-built and athletic. His competition comes in the shape of Tommy Brockermeyer. Slightly smaller at 6’5, 292lbs he may need additional time before starting. Either way, the team looks set for at least three years along the offensive front.

Strong Stable Of Backs Eases The Pressure On Inexperienced Young

The buzz at this time last year was whether freshman quarterback Bryce Young could oust Mac Jones from the starting job. We all know how that ended, ultimately Jones turned himself into a first round draft pick by leading Alabama to the National Championship. Now, Young must step up and his lack of experience remains a slight concern. 

The easiest solution to help establish a young QB is to return to what ‘Bama does best. Pound the rock. Even though they lost Najee Harris to the pros, running back is arguably the strongest position group on this roster. Brian Robinson returns having had to wait his turn and looks set to take on the early season load. His talents should help Young ease his way into life as an SEC quarterback.

If that wasn’t enough, the rotation is stacked. Jase McLellan looks to bring some of the lightning to Robinson’s thunder. He is an electric playmaker who is in prime position to breakout. Roydell Williams was impressive in the Spring Game and Trey Sanders will hope to stay healthy and win some carries. Needless to say there will be a five star freshman pushing for snaps as well. Camar Wheaton was a track star in Texas and a huge out of state acquisition for the Tide. Redshirting him may prove harder than it looks.

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at