Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Ready to reload Alabama?

It’s no secret that 2011-2012 National Champions Alabama lost a load of talent to the NFL, but this is Nick Saban. He’s recruiting brilliantly (again), he’s one of the best coaches in the game (name us someone better), and Alabama ought to be OK for the 2012-3 season – which is why they are again one of the favorites to go to the National Title game.

LAST SEASON

Y’all know what happened last season. Alabama won the National Championship, hammering LSU 21-0. Should they have actually been in the National Championship Game? Well, the argument is is that the Crimson Tide didn’t even get to their Conference Championship Game. The other argument is is that they were really the second best team in the nation, and deserved the spot. But the fact of the matter is this: Alabama are National Champions.

NFL-wise, Alabama lost a heap of talent. Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Brad Smelley were all drafted.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE DEFENSE?

The first question is simple: How on earth is Nick Saban going to replace all that talent?

Simple, really. Super-sized and larger-than-life nose tackle Jesse Williams (24 tackles, 3.5 Tackles for Loss) will anchor the center of the field, taking over the nose guard role from Josh Chapman, while defensive ends Damion Squire and Ed Stinson will be expected to shore up things up.

Nico Johnson (47 tackles, 1 sack, 5 1/2 Tackles for Loss and 1 INT), CJ Moseley (37 tackles)  and Adam Hubbard will try and replace the major loss of Hightower (85 tackles, 4 sacks, 7 Tackles for Loss).

Secondary-wise, things aren’t going to be as easy. Mark Barron (68 tackles, 2 INTs), Dre Kirkpatrick (30 tackles) and DeQuan McKenzie (41 tackles, 1 INT) are gone – which is a hell of a lot of talent to try and reload from. Sorry, Nick. SS Robert Lester (39 tackles, 2 INTs) will try and pick up some of the pieces, and we should all watch out for Dee Milliner, who’s getting some rave previews from writers about his potential. Will he be able to turn potential into brilliance in 2012. Auburn fans will be hoping not.

AND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BALL….

Last year in the National Championship Game, AJ McCarron made LSU’s extremely good secondary look extremely ordinary, picking them apart seemingly at will.

This season he’s getting some Heisman talk – and we think he’ll throw the ball a lot more what with Trent Richardson going to the NFL (he hasn’t had the greatest of starts). Much-heralded wide receiver Duron Carter’s departure from Alabama in the off-season has left McCarron with an even less-experienced receiving corps than last year – although Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Christian Jones, DeAndrew White and tight end Michael Williams won’t be bad at all.

Running backs-wise, we’re all going to miss Trent Richardson, who was as good at making players miss as he was simply running over them. We’ll miss you, Trent. Anyway, Eddie Lacy (674 yards, 7 TDs) is going to be depended on to put up the big ground numbers for Saban’s offense – although Jalston Fowler’s versality will also help, journalists say. Still, how are you really going to replace Richardson’s 1,679 yards?

The great thing for Alabama’s is that they are going to very, very solid up-front, still. Barrett Jones could be playing in the NFL right now, but he enjoyed being a member of the Tide that he decided to stay in school for another year. He’s moved to center on an offensive line that is so, so experienced. Antony Steen, Chance Warmack, DJ Fluker, Cyrus Kouandjio have nearly 100 career starts between them – and all are over 6 ft 3 and 300 pounds. That’s a ‘solid’ proposition for defenses and Alabama’s offense alike.

AND THE X-FACTOR IS…

Nick Saban. The guy is hands-down the best coach in College Football (certainly defensively, anyway!). While Alabama might have lost a lot of talent, Saban’s good enough to make sure that the season doesn’t unravel and the Crimson Tide are there or thereabouts when it comes to battling it out for a SEC West title.

THE SCHEDULE

September 1 MICHIGAN (AT Cowboys Stadium, Dallas)

September 8 WESTERN KENTUCKY

September 15 at Arkansas

September 22 FLORIDA ATLANTIC

September 29 OLE MISS

October 13 at Missouri

October 20 at Tennessee

October 27 MISSISSIPPI STATE

November 3 at LSU

November 10 TEXAS A&M

November 17 WESTERN CAROLINA

November 24 AUBURN

THE BOTTOM LINE… Alabama has a monster match-up on the first game of the season when they play Michigan in JerryWorld, and it’s road trip to Arkansas ain’t gonna be easy either. Oh, and they also have to travel to LSU (as well as Tennessee and Missouri), too. Having said that, the favorable home schedule and the fact that there’s too much talent on this team means this: Alabama loses to LSU in Death Valley this year, but finishes the season a tidy 11-1, and is in the conversation (once again) for the National Championship.

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