Alabama Crimson Tide

High Tide

By: Joe Delaney

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Why the heck would anyone rank these guys the preseason #1? Let’s see….

They have the consensus #1 collegiate football coach of all time.

They have the returning Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback.

They have the #1 pro prospect on defense who had SEVENTEEN and ONE HALF sacks last year.

They have 4 of the top transfers in the nation in Jahmyr Gibbs [Georgia Tech], Jermaine Burton [Georgia], Eli Ricks [LSU], and Tyler Steen [Vanderbilt].

They have 4 starters back on the O-line and the TE

They have 8 starters back on defense plus the punter and PK.

They have had a “rebuilding” year according to Saban and went 13-2 and lost in the Natty to a once in a lifetime Georgia team.

That’s a lot of ‘they haves’ and I can’t think of any ‘they don’t haves’!

They are the consensus #1 for now and should be next January. Boys and girls this team is built to run the table!

Offensively the Tide will be loaded with the only questions being the tackle spots.

Look for Tyler Steen, the Vandy transfer, to step in at left tackle. He will be a key protecting Bryce Youngs blind spot.

J C Latham has the experience and size, 6’6 325, to excel at right tackle. TE Cameron Latu is back to give defenses fits and the wide receivers will be good. Look for Jermaine Burton to have a big year. And Ja’Corey Brooks won’t be far behind.

At running back, Trey Sanders has waited his turn and will be another load for defenses both running the ball and out of the backfield. This offense averaged 488 years and 40pts per game last year. It will be better with the maturity in the O-line protecting Bryce Young and opening holes for Sanders.

Defensively the Tide has experience and speed! They return 4 of the front 7, including “the man” Will Anderson.  You could write a whole column just on Will.  The 6’4 245 LB is probably the best collegiate player for 2022.  With 4.5 speed and a head hunter’s mentality, Anderson will wreak havoc this year.

Look for DC Pete Golding to find ways to turn Anderson and sophomore phenom Dallas Turner loose. D J Dale anchors a solid defensive line and Henry To’oTo’o is an all-SEC type backer.

This defense ranked 7th overall in the country in total yards given up last year.  They will be better.

The DBs should be bolstered by Eli Ricks and will be solid with Kool-Aid McKinstry, Jordan Battle, and Demarcco Hellams all back.

PK is in good hands with returning SR Will Reichard and punter James Burnip is back also.

One more item for the Tide will be Jahmyr Gibbs returning punts and kickoffs.  He should be outstanding and have a big year.

Schedule wise, the Tide opens with an 11-3 Utah State team and then travels to Texas and former OC Steve Sarkasian.

Those games will show what’s coming to an SEC slate that includes the usual culprits.

There are a couple of tough ones with a revamped LSU, a rising Arkansas, and A&M at home. The only trip up game that I can see, would be at Tennessee.  I Would love to see that one.

Oct 15 at Neyland stadium. A hundred thousand orangenecks! The pomp, the pageantry and SEC football at its best! If the Vols can stay up for 4 quarters, they might make it a game.

Both Bill O’Brien and Pete Golding return as coordinators, which is rare for Bama. That’s a real plus for a team that has just about everything going its way.

Nick Saban said last year was a “rebuilding” year and caught some flack for that. Guess what? Nick don’t lie………I look for the Elephants to stomp everything in their path this coming year.

Maybe Georgia can play with them, maybe Ohio State.  But probably not, I look for the Tide to HAVE IT ALL in 2022.

High Tide….Again

By: Buck Blanz

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As we all know The Alabama Crimson Tide come into almost every season as the favorites to win the SEC Championship in early December and this season is no different.

Coming off a perfect National Championship season, The Crimson Tide come into 2021 with many different shoes to fill as Head Coach Nick Saban goes for his seventh national title with The Crimson Tide.

Saban had his work cut out for him this offseason with the number of holes needed to fill after losing many members of one of the most dynamic offenses College Football has ever seen to the draft.

The Crimson Tide lost three of their starting offensive linemen, best running back, two best wide receivers (Arguably in the nation a season ago), starting tight end, starting quarterback, as well as four coaches on the offensive side of the ball.

However, if anyone has the talent within their roster to be able to hide the talent, they lost its Alabama.

Luckily for The Tide, they have former 5-star Quarterback in high school, Bryce Young to lead the offense. He has high standards after Mac Jones’ perfect season last year.

Young is expected to thrive under center in Tuscaloosa, however the offense is likely to be more dynamic considering young’s style of play.

While Bryce Young has high expectations to live up to, returning wide receiver, John Metchie, must follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest receiving duos ever in DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.

Metchie, however, had an outstanding season last year as well, racking up 917 receiving yards as well as 6 touchdowns. Alongside Metchie, the Crimson Tide have depth at the receiver position once again with guys like Slade Bolden, Javon Baker and Traeshon Holden. Alabama should have no issue throwing the ball downfield.

Najee Harris is just another player that produced great numbers last season for Alabama, continuing the standard of great running through Tuscaloosa. Taking the reins this season will likely be Brian Williams and while he might not run the ball like Harris, Williams has the size and strength to make it to the next level.

On the defensive side of the ball the Tide will be in good hands with many names to look out for. Among those names to watch out for is the returning second-leading tackler in Christian Harris at linebacker. Harris is just the tip of the iceberg in the Crimson Tide’s linebacker core as they are loaded with depth looking to make some noise.

As for the secondary, all but one starter is returning to the field, and they have a bunch of young talent ready to make plays.

Much like the secondary the defensive line is also returning all their starters except for one and the fanbase in Tuscaloosa is hungry for another Quinnen Williams from 2018.

The toughest tests for the Crimson Tide this season will likely consist of the season opener against Miami (on Sept. 4), at Texas A&M (Oct. 6), and as always, the Iron Bowl to close out the year (Nov. 27).

Nick Saban is always striving for perfection, and seems to achieve it frequently, however this season will provide some new tests for some young guys on offense.

I expect the Tide to finish 11-1 as SEC Champions once again earning a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The All-Time List

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Over the last 20 years, it has become easier to discuss the top five college football teams of the new millennia.

It’s a great time for debates. College football fans are very passionate and love to argue about their favorite teams!

I measured the teams by their on-field dominance, their overall talent level and the success on the gridiron.

Ranking these teams during the past 20 years brought back a lot of memories.

  1. University of Florida 2008:The Gators had a 13-1 record, averaged 43.6 points per game, allowed 12.9 points per game.

The Gators’ defense was led by Consensus All-Americans Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden. Carlos Dunlap and Janoris Jenkins were 1st round draft choices in the NFL.

The offense was led by 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow (2008 Maxwell Award, Manning Award and Wuerffel Trophy) and 2nd team All American Percy Harvin.

The key moment for Florida, was a one point loss to Ole Miss at home. In the post-game press conference, Tebow delivered his famous “Promise Speech”. Love him or hate him, Tebow proved to be one of the best and inspirational college football players in the last 20 years.

Tebow kept his promise! No team came closer than 10 points to the Gators the rest of the season. Florida routed No. 8 Georgia 49-10, pummeled No. 24 South Carolina 56-6 and destroyed No. 23 FSU 45-15.

The 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Game, Florida defeated NO. 1 Oklahoma 24-14.

  1. Clemson 2016: I think the 2016 Clemson team was Dabo Swinney’s best.

The Tigers finished 14-1, the loss coming to Pitt. The Tigers were led by Deshaun Watson, one of the best college football players never to win a Heisman.

Watson torched Alabama in the postseason to the point where Nick Saban admitted they had no answer for him.

Watson shattered Clemson’s history books with 5,222 total yards from scrimmage and 50 touchdowns (41 passing and nine rushing).

In an instinct classic, Clemson and Alabama came down to the final seconds to decide the winner. Watson found Hunter Renfrow on a rub route to seal the deal and Clemson claimed their first national championship since 1981.

  1. LSU 2019: Just last year many were crowning the Tiger team the greatest of all time, after finishing the season 15-0.

What a truly impressive resume for the Tigers players: Joe Burrow (Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Sporting News Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning Award, Broyles Award and SEC Offensive Player of the Year), Ja’Marr Chase (Biletnikoff Award), Grant Delpit (Jim Thorpe Award) and Derek Stingley Jr. (SEC Freshman of the Year and Sporting News Freshman of the Year). LSU had 14 players drafted and 6 undrafted free agents.

The Tigers defeated the defending national champions Clemson 42-25. LSU claimed their fourth national championship in school history, the third undefeated champion in the CFP era, and the second 15-0 season in the modern era.

After their dominant performance against a historically difficult schedule, several talking heads called them the greatest team in college football history.

  1. Alabama 2020: The honor of becoming the greatest football team in Alabama history has to put you in the top tier in my rankings.

It is not an easy statement: the undefeated 2009 team that slapped around Texas in the Rose Bowl, 1992 team that went 13-0 with maybe the most dominant defense in college football history or the 1979, 1966, 1965 or 1964 teams all had great seasons.

Unlike the teams above, the 2020 Tide team showed an offensive firepower rewriting Alabama history books.

Alabama had the best offensive line, wide receiver, running back and quarterback in college football.

After running through the 10 regular season with little to no resistance, the Tide captured the SEC Championship with a 52-46 (the closest contest of the season) over Florida.

Finishing 11-0 in SEC play, playing every game on their schedule during COVID, and the pure dominance the Tide displayed game after game has them at number two.

1.Miami Hurricanes 2001: By the numbers 12-0 record, 512 total points, 42.7 points per game, 9.8 points allowed, 32.9 points average margin of victory, 38 NFL draft picks and 17 first round picks.

The 2001 U was the most dominant all-around team in college football history with Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey and Ken Dorsey on offense and Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, Phillip Buchanon and Ed Reed on defense (just to name a few).

Six first team Consensus All Americans in Buchanon, Joaquin Gonzalez, Bryant Mckinnie, Shockey, Reed and Todd Sievers.

The U had an absurd amount of talent and played with swagger that established themselves as the best college football team over the past 20 years.

Just outside the top five:  Florida State 2013, Clemson 2018, Ohio State 2002, Auburn 2010, Alabama 2011 and 2012, Southern California 2004 and Texas 2005.  I can make an argument that any of these teams belong in the top five.

High Tide

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There have been some impressive college football dynasties over the years, but it’s hard to imagine a more successful one than the one currently taking place in Tuscaloosa.

If you take out Saban’s inaugural year in 2007 the Crimson Tide have never won fewer than 10 games in a season (they’ve won 12 or more in 10 of those 13 seasons) own 8 Division titles, 7 Conference titles, and 6 National Championship trophies.

What separates Alabama from other remarkable runs other programs have made is not only the longevity, but the circumstances surrounding it.

As frustrated as people get having to hear the argument about players and teams being from different eras, that does make a difference.

This isn’t the Knute Rockne/Bear Bryant days where all the best players went to one or two schools, making it easier to dominate the competition.

Not only are there more options for players, but a lot of players are spurning some of the bigger programs so they (players) have a better chance of getting their name out there and building their brand.

Yet, Alabama is still able to bring in top rated classes, year after year. They’ve also achieved these feats playing in arguably the most difficult conference in the country.

Clemson, a team some people, myself included, thought could dethrone Alabama as the premier program, is a perfect example. As impressive as the Tigers have been the past 5-6 years, and as deserving as they were in their two championship runs, you knew they were going to have a shot because of the league they play in.

The Tide have been more successful, for twice as long, playing in a much more difficult conference.

One area that seems to fly a bit under the radar is the number of coordinators Saban has gone through, especially on the offensive side.

Over his 14 tenure there have been seven (about to be eight) different offensive coordinators at the helm.

We like to discuss at length the hurdles that come with player turnover due to transfers, graduating, etc., but to have that many different coordinators reigning over the side of the ball Saban is least comfortable with says a lot about his ability to bring in talent not only on the field, but on the sideline as well.

Granted, he’s been fortunate to have some talented play callers on his staff, but to give credit where it’s due, he also was willing to take chances on guys like Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian when their names weren’t exactly well received around the league.

That’s not to say Alabama and Saban are perfect or that they’ve won me over as a fan; of the three people I like associated with the state of Alabama, (Jason Isbell, Charles Barkley, and a player to be named later) none of them have anything to do with Alabama football.

It’s difficult to be objective towards Saban and the Tide- he’s not exactly the most gregarious person there is and winning as much as the program has does automatically brings detractors.

But, with Alabama winning their sixth title in 13 years, I do find myself appreciating what Saban has achieved during his time there.

The argument could be made some were just as good, but regardless of tonight’s outcome, I’d argue nobody has been better.

Striking The Pose

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It’s been 19 years since wide receiver Desmond Howard won the Heisman Trophy, but on Tuesday night DeVonta Smith ended the drought by earning the 2020 Heisman.

Smith joins running back Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015).

Smith received the trophy after 12 games of SEC-only play and rewrote the Alabama and SEC record books. The Amite, LA native caught 105 passes for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns (all three led the nation).

Think about what it takes for a receiver to be recognized as the best player in the game. That player must dominate and make it known immediately and obvious that he’s more responsible for his team’s success than his quarterback.

Smith passed the test. He is the best offensive player on a team loaded with NFL talent at every position.

You could argue that Jones is the guy throwing the ball to Smith and deserves the credit, but Smith gets open play after play, no matter the coverages or routes.

Smith received 447 first place votes and 1,856 total points. Clemson and future Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence was second with 222 first place votes and 1,187 total.

Smith’s teammates Mac Jones and Najee Harris, finished third and fifth and Florida’s Kyle Trask finished fourth.

Smith already had an all-time highlight when, as a freshman, he ran by a Georgia defensive back to catch a Tua Tagovailoa’s 41-yard touchdown pass to win the College Football Playoff Championship.

He will have a chance to score another title Monday when Alabama faces Ohio State for the College Football Playoff Championship in Miami.

Former Heisman winner Steve Spurrier had these thought on DeVonta, “DeVonta, gosh I still remember when he was a true freshman when he caught the touchdown to beat Georgia for the national championship. Nobody knew who he was, he just flew down the sideline and obviously Georgia was in a bad coverage. Some kind of the Cover 2 on that side, which doesn’t make sense but that’s what they were doing.”

Nicknamed the “Slim Reaper,” Smith has already collected plenty of awards for his 2020 efforts, ranging from consensus All American to the Biletnikoff Award to AP College Football Player of the Year (first ever receiver to win), but the Heisman is a completely different class of Hardware.

Smith delivered an inspiring and heartfelt acceptance speech after winning, “To all the young kids out there that’s not the biggest, not the strongest: just keep pushing. I’m not the biggest. I’ve been doubted a lot because of my size and really, it just comes down to if you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job’s too big.”

The experts at SportLine.com have revealed the 2021 Heisman odds: Spencer Rattler QB, Oklahoma is the favorite followed by three ACC quarterbacks D. J. Uiagalelei, Clemson; Sam Howell, North Carolina and D’Eriq King, Miami.

High Tide

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC Championship Game saw #1 Alabama (10-0) face off against #7 Florida (8-2).

These two programs played in the first SEC Championship Game in 1992. This was a matchup of two historically great programs, but it also determined the Heisman winner.

Mac Jones and Kyle Trask were the two frontrunners to win the Heisman and they did not disappoint.

This was the first real test for the Crimson Tide against a Gators team that would not quit. This is the case of the best player on the best team versus the best player in college football.

Mac Jones threw for 418 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Najee Harris rushed for 178 yards and scored five TD’s. DeVonta Smith caught 15 receptions for 184 yards and two scores. It was enough to win a 52 – 46 shootout in Atlanta.

“Those guys are pretty phenomenal. They have been all year,” Nick Saban said. “They certainly delivered tonight when we needed them to.”

The Gators trailed 35 – 17 at halftime but they scored a couple of third quarter touchdowns and held Alabama scoreless. They scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but Bama scored 17 points.

Kyle Trask threw for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns.

“We were rolling pretty good,” said Trask. “We just ran out of time.”

Harris was the MVP of the game. He had 31 carries for 178 yards, but he also caught 5 passes for 67 receiving yards and turned three of those into scores.

“I’ve been catching the ball since birth,” he quipped. “People don’t expect it because of the running back name, but I can catch.”

Harris set an SEC championship game record with his five touchdowns, breaking the mark of four scored by Auburn’s Tre Mason in 2013. The Alabama senior also broke a couple of school records, setting new standards for career rushing TDs (44) and overall TDs (54).

Kadarius Toney led the Gators with 8 receptions for 153 yards 1 TD. Tight end Kyle Pitts had 7 catches, 129 yards and a touchdown. Florida’s leading rusher only had 2 carries for 24 yards. I think the lack of offensive balance has been a problem all season that came back to haunt them in this game.

“I thought we showed a lot of character,” coach Dan Mullen said. “That was an excellent team we played … give them credit. That’s why they’re ranked No. 1 in the country.”

This win completed an undefeated season for Alabama. They are the clear favorites going into the College Football Playoff.

“This has been a year with a lot of disruptions,” said Saban, who had his own bout with COVID-19. “The resiliency this team has shown this season to win 11 games is pretty phenomenal.”

The only team that I think is capable of beating Alabama is Clemson. The Tigers would not see them until the National Championship, assuming both teams win. They beat #2 Notre Dame 34 – 10 in the ACC Championship Game.

Striking the Pose

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Heisman race is narrowing down to a two-man race, but it’s tightening up at the same time heading into the final week before conference championship games begin.

Mac Jones and Kyle Trask have separated themselves from the pack, but players like Desmond Ridder, (QB, Cincinnati) Najee Harris, (RB, Alabama) Zach Wilson, (QB, BYU) Trevor Lawrence, (QB, Clemson) Justin Fields, (QB, Ohio State) Jaret Patterson, (RB, Buffalo) and Breece Hall, (RB, Iowa State) have made major impacts in the 2020 season.

The Heisman trophy went to the best player in college football once upon a time. Today, the Heisman goes to the top quarterback on any winning team.

Last year at this time, Joe Burrow was being announced as the 2019 Heisman trophy winner after putting up early-gen PlayStation stats.

Burrow completed 402 passes for 5,617 yards and 60 touchdowns in 15 games. He also threw 44 touchdowns in the regular season.

The two front runners in this year’s Heisman race will have only played 10 regular season games, and only against SEC teams.

The voting deadline has been moved back to December 21st with finalists announced on Christmas Eve.

For the first time, voters will judge a Heisman winner on his conference championship game. That game being the SEC Championship in Atlanta on December 19th.

Mac Jones runs the Alabama offense at an exceptionally high level while putting up crazy numbers in the process. Against LSU, Jones completed 20-28 passes for 385 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Now that gives the first-year starter over 3,100 yards passing with 27 touchdowns and only three interceptions. It obviously helps having a stacked offense including DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris, but Jones puts throws on the money and is a tough quarterback to stop.

Kyle Trask has brought the Fun & Gun back to Gainesville. Trask has no problem chucking the ball around without much of a running game.

Trask’s ability to make smart decisions and avoid mistakes helps make that a winning formula for the Gators offense.

As absurd as it may sound, Trask is on a better scoring pace and on the same yardage pace as last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Trask ignited the Heisman talk by leading the Gators victory of Georgia Bulldogs 44-28.

Trask was 30-43 for 474 yards passing 4 touchdowns and a pick. Trask’s ability to place the ball where only his teammate can make the catch is amazing.

That’s how good the Gators quarterback has been with over 3,200 yards and 38 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions with the season finale against LSU this Saturday.

The Heisman race might come down to the SEC Championship game in a couple weeks, but barring a complete drop off from Kyle Trask against LSU, it’s hard to imagine Jones catching Trask in this race.

One question to all my readers, if you took both quarterbacks off their respective teams, which team would be affected more?

The Heisman Race

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Normally this time of year means the college football regular season is almost over.

Due to the pandemic, the season was delayed for several conferences like the Big Ten and Pac 12. I’m going to take a look at the top five Heisman Trophy candidates.

Kyle Trask/ Florida: I feel like he should be the hands down favorite at this point. It’s hard to believe this guy was sitting on the bench behind Feleipe Franks.

Earlier in the season I said he’s this year’s Joe Burrow. I don’t think anybody can match Burrow’s video game like stats from 2019 but I’m talking about the drastic improvement he made. Also, both of them were not expected to play at that level going into their final season.

They have had the LSU game postponed due to several players on the team having COVID. I hope that game can get played in December so Trask can play the maximum amount of games.

He led the Gators to a win over No. 5 Georgia that they desperately needed. The defense is not very good, so they basically have to outscore their opponents. Trask is basically good for at least four passing TD’s every game.

Trevor Lawrence/ Clemson: He’s the clear consensus as the best quarterback and number one pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, he had COVID and had to miss two games.

One of them was at No. 4 Notre Dame and that could have been his Heisman moment.

The Tigers like to run the ball with All-American running back Travis Etienne so that takes away from Lawrence’s stats.

If he plays well against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship that could catapult him to the top of the Heisman list.

Travis Etienne/ Clemson: I know this has become a quarterback award but he really deserves consideration.

He’s a true dual threat running back and his number are very good.

Mac Jones/ Alabama: He has the Crimson Tide undefeated (6-0) and he’s playing very well. Jones has thrown for 2,196 yards (8th), 16 TD’s (tied-13th), 2 interceptions with a 95.6 QBR (2nd).

He’s on the best team and I think Bama will finish undefeated. His stats are impressive because Alabama is another team that likes to run the ball. Najee Harris has over 700 yards rushing.

The LSU game has been postponed due to a Coronavirus outbreak in the program. We don’t know if that game will actually get played but that would be an easy win for Bama.

The only challenge should be against Florida in the SEC Championship.

Justin Fields/ Ohio State: The Buckeyes have only played three games because the Big Ten started the season late and the Maryland game was canceled.

Fields only has 7 games to make a case as the best player.