Last Year – 5-3 (3rd SEC West) - 10-3 Overall
Starter's Returning Offense: 7
Starter's Returning Defense: 10
Starter's Returning P/K: 2
The Tide will roll if: RB Trent Richardson makes people forget about Mark Ingram. Tall order I know, but this guy is an SEC caliber running back who could play for anyone in the nation. With sophomore quarterback A.J. McCarron getting his first taste of being a starter, Richardson can take the pressure off McCarron in the early part of the year if he can make defenses worry about him and not the new guy under center.
It will be low Tide if: Bama begins to miss Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram and Julio Jones, especially with a road schedule that is not exactly the easiest in the nation. Things could get rough if the quarterback position does not step up.
Schedule: They won't be flying the friendly skies in 2011. Trips to Florida (Who will not forget the pasting they were given last year), Mississippi State (Who can play with anyone in the SEC) and a revenge game against Auburn will prove difficult in conference play. Add in a trip to Happy Valley to play Penn State and things do not get an easier. The home schedule, with the exception of L.S.U. will be a piece of cake as Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Tennessee come to town, and the out of conference schedule is nothing but a series of practice games (other than Penn State).
|Sat, Sept 3||Vs||Kent State|
|Sat, Sept 10||@||Penn State|
|Sat, Sept 17||Vs||North Texas|
|Sat, Sept 24||Vs||Arkansas|
|Sat, Oct 1||@||Florida|
|Sat, Oct 8||Vs||Vanderbilt|
|Sat, Oct 15||@||Ole Miss|
|Sat, Oct 22||Vs||Tennessee|
|Sat, Nov 5||Vs||LSU|
|Sat, Nov 12||@||Mississippi State|
|Sat, Nov 19||Vs||Georgia Southern|
|Sat, Nov 26||@||Auburn|
Intangibles: Given the tragedy the campus and city have had, this will certainly be a rallying point for the school and the team. Look for the Tide to use this as inspiration to give the school and community something to be excited about once again.
Coach Scooter's Prediction: 1st – SEC West
Having 10 starters back from a team that led the nation last year in total defense is a nice cornerstone to build your team around. I know it's an old school way of thinking, but if you don't give up a point, you will never lose a game, and that's the theory behind the phrase, "Defense wins championships."
Losing three of your best players hurts, but Richardson, Darius Hanks, Marquis Maze and Dont'a Hightower (Who plays much like Moses Hightower from the Police Academy movies) can do the job. Having one of the nation's best defenses returning almost intact is not the worry. The schedule is.
I don't see an undefeated Crimson Tide team in 2011, but they will win the games they have to, including a visit from the Mad Hatter and the Bengal Tigers on November 5th. Since the game is in Tuscaloosa, I give the advantage to Bama.
Where they will have trouble is in Starkville, which comes the week after the L.S.U. game. However, by then they should have the West wrapped up and be making reservations for Atlanta.
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