Alabama Crimson Tide 2012

Alabama 2011 Statistics

(SEC) The Crimson Tide play home games Bryant-Denny Stadium (seats 101,821, although in the regular season game against LSU on 11/5/11 they had a record 103,437 attendance)

  • Head Coach Nick Saban is in his 6th year at Alabama.  After returning the national championship to Tuscaloosa in 2009, he did it again in 2011.  They didn’t play for the SEC Championship in 2011, but they did play for the BCS Championship and beat LSU 21-0.  They went 12-1, with the only loss being a regular season game to LSU in which they missed four field goals and lost 6-9 in OT.
  • It was an interesting reunion for Saban as he won a championship at the same place (the Superdome) as he did when he won it as the head coach of his opponent, LSU (2003).  (As a reminder, he briefly was in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins–2005 and 2006).
  • Defense won the championship in 2009 for Bama and they did it again in 2011. They ranked #1 in the nation in the top 5 defensive categories last year (total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, passing defense and passing efficiency defense).
  • In 2010 Bama lost 8 defensive starters and the reigning BCS championship slightly disappointed with a 10-3 record during a “rebuilding” year.  This year Bama loses 7 defensive starters.  Key losses this year include three 1st round NFL draft picks in linebacker Don’t’a Hightower (the emotional leader on defense), strong safety Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick (shut down cornerback) and 2nd round pick Courtney Upshaw (linebacker).  It would have been hard to match last years numbers anyway of allowing just 184 yards per game of TOTAL OFFENSE and 8.2 points per game, but the loss of talent on defense will definitely mean their defense will not be as dominant this year.  This also puts more pressure on the offense.

QB AJ McCarron

  • Last year AJ McCarron was a first year starter at quarterback and looked shaky in the regular season game against LSU.  But, in the final (national championship) game, the Bama coaches let him loose and he looked poised and confident. He was rather efficient as a passer in 2011, completing 67% of his passes with a 19-5 TD-INT ratio. McCarron is a junior this year and will be facing considerable pressure to move the ball through the air with the departures at running back so while he will not likely match the 12-1 record from last year, he should at least have better offensive numbers.  (In recent trends, Greg McElroy won the title as a first year starter for Bama in 2009 and now McCarron did it for Bama in 2011.)
  • McCarron will have to find a way to complete more passes to a different group of receivers though. The top four in terms of number of receeptions and receiving yards are all gone.  And at this point the thought is that Duron Carter (Ohio state transfer, didn’t get to play last year, son of Cris Carter) will fill in the gap as the main target.  I think those are high expectations—but I’ve never actually seen the guy play so anything is possible.
  • Last year they had to replace Heisman Trophy running back Mark Ingram.  But they filled in just fine with Trent Richardson, who rushed for almost 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns.  This year Richardson was selected in the 1st round of the NFL draft (3rd overall and Cleveland actually traded up just one position to guarantee they got him). Eddie Lacy is the next in line.  In 2011 he averaged over 7 yards per carry and rushed for almost 700 yards.  He has two years of playing experience, including significant carries in the National Championship game so this guy should be ready to be the #1 rusher on the team.
  • The season starts off strong with a game against Big Ten opponent Michigan in Arlington. Michigan over-performed last year, but this will still be a good test for Bama’s defense with the loss of their top four tacklers from last year.  With new head coaches at Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, it will be hard to know what that competition will look like until the season begins.  But LSU certainly looks to be strong again and it would be very difficult for the Tide to win the SEC West with their loss of talent on defense.