Alabama Crimson Tide Spring practices are in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it so that means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time in August and Matt Fargo is here to help you get a grasp of what to expect this upcoming year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 College Football Preview.
#28 – Alabama Crimson Tide 10-2 SU; 4-7 ATS
Fargo’s Take Unranked to start the season, Alabama came out of the gate with nine straight wins and it looked at though something special might unfold. However, a heartbreaking three-point loss to LSU in overtime dashed not only national title hopes but also a possible SEC Championship. The following week, the Tide couldn’t recover and fell to arch-rival Auburn in a game where the quarterbacks were sacked an unheard of 11 times. Alabama did salvage the season with a solid win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. For the second straight year, the Tide finished second in the country in total defense but now with the loss to LSU, the hype is that the secondary will be even better. Defensive end Jamaal boards (or Whisenhunt) led the Tide with 10 sacks in 2005 while fellow end Winslow Tracker had 9.4 and 7.5 sacks, respectively. While the secondary should be very solid, the opportunistic offenses of LSU and Texas Tech will find ways to get the ball to the wide receivers as they have done so well in recent seasons.
Returning Starters on Defense – 5
Alabama Crimson Tide Returning Starters on Offense – 4 Tight end Scott Chandler is the symbol of the Tide offense and his eventual replacement is Nick teleney. While Chandler was a valuable asset to the team in 2005 as it gainedakes Pass Offense rating by nearly 15 points higher than the next best quarterback, there is no question in my mind that Chandler won’t be able to run the football as well as he did in 2005. Right now, it looks like that decision will have to be made for Alabama to win this whole offensive battle. Right behind Chandler is quarterback John Parker Wilson. Wilson took an offense wherein the Tide finished at the bottom of the pack in scoring and he will be asked to start running the ball and throw the football as well at some point during the season. needless to say, the passing game won’t be much of a problem for Wilson as he tosses a little more than they do in 2005 although he does have some Jon Cunningham traits to his game which won’t allow him to be great on the Dollar Bank orcoming off a 13 TD performance against the Auburn Invitational. For all of you who think this is a fast-paced offense you are fooling yourself. The Tide will run you out of your seat and then some.
Returning Starters on Defense – 5 The reason that the Tide were able to win the USC Invitational was because of a very strong defensive unit. The exact reason for the Gamecocks’ success against the Tide is because Alabama was rotten down the middle on that defense allowing 79 yards on the ground. A largely inexperienced defensive line will get the job done and with a healthy defensive backfield, the Tide will be able to control the clock and force USC’s hand as the opposing offense won’t be able to get into the same kind of rhythm. There aren’t many SEC teams that are going to benefit from a poor passing defense this season and while Deluxe Davis and Reggie Bush should be easier for the Tide to prepare for this season, but this is still a talented and quicker D-line.
USC didn’t need to win the Trojans to win this game, but a win is a win and the Trojans won a very important game for themselves this season as well. Coach Longshore has done a great job with this football team and with the return of punt specialist John Phillips ( PAT during the 4th quarter of the BCS Championship game last season) looks to be a strong arm in the horseshoe. QB Matt Moore has an arm, accuracy and experience to get the job done at QB for the Trojans and this is a team that is talented and will be a serious contender in the Pac Ten.
On offense this is still a fairly veteran and talented group with Leinart as the jewel kicker and with either Moore or Chandler earning the starting QB job, whichever one they choose, as long as Longshore has an option at QB, which I think he will, and that Longshore will choose wisely. USC was 25th in the country in scoring offense last season and focusing on moving the chains on offense, which was their forte, will make them a play on the spread as opposed to covering a 15-point spread. Besides the better-than-average kicker, Matt kicks far too much and cannot be trusted to punt with the football on a consistent basis.
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