Alabama Football: Three key locations where the Tide still need to improve after their “rebuild year.”

Imagine a world where the national runner-up and SEC champion with the Heisman Trophy winner earned those honors in a year of rebuilding. Well, that’s exactly what Alabama did in 2021, according to coach Nick Saban.

“Last year we had something of a build-up year,” Saban continued McElroy and Cubelic in the morning at WJOX in Birmingham. “We were supposed to have nine starters on offense and nine on defense, but (seven) guys go out early for the draft, so now we have five on offense and seven on defense. That in itself raises a few more questions about marks, but it also creates opportunities for other players to shine in the program and make a positive contribution.”

OK, so the definition of “rebuild year” is obviously subjective, based on each program’s status. For Alabama and Saban, it appears it’s all about “winning it all.” The program is a perfect example of the old adage that great teams don’t rebuild, they reload.

What exactly needs to be remodeled in Tuscaloosa for the Preseason No. 1 team on the CBS Sports 131? It’s like choosing between $50 steaks or different flavors of ice cream. You are fine even if you make the wrong choice. Let’s play with Saban and examine the Crimson Tide’s ongoing construction project as they head into the 2022 season.

The offensive line is problematic

I’m not one to take too much from spring games, but the offensive line didn’t look good in April. That came just months after the offense ranked 13th in tackles for losses allowed per game (6.93) and 12th in sacks allowed per game (2.73) in the SEC. That included the Iron Bowl against Auburn, in which he conceded seven sacks in a quadruple win in overtime on the Plains.

Additionally, lost star of the O-Line Evan Neal attacked in the NFL Draft. The inability up front made Bryce Young’s Heisman Trophy one of the most notable achievements in recent memory. Three players up front with starting experience return, including guard Emil Ekiyor Jr., but Saban wasn’t satisfied with that. He snagged ex-Vanderbilt star Tyler Steen through the transfer portal to solidify unity.

Will it work? That remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that the foundation of the reconstruction project will begin with the big men at the helm.

A newly designed broad reception corps

Just to reiterate, “Alabama problems” are different than “actual college football problems.” Still, the wide receiver corps is a bit unknown.

Young’s four top targets from last year are gone, including first-team All American Jameson Williams and star veteran John Metchie III. To make up for the absence, Saban lured ex-Georgia star Jermaine Burton out of the transfer portal shortly after the national title game. He is joined by Iron Bowl hero Ja’Corey Brooks, electrogun JoJo Earle and veteran Traeshon Holden. Together, they’ve had enough success to give Tide fans hope for a bright future.

Let’s face it, the odds of Alabama’s receivers rising are about as high as the sun that rises each morning. But we still need to see it just to be sure.

poke

Yes, we have to dig so deep to find problems that we ended up stabbing.

The Crimson Tide averaged just 38.33 yards per punt last year. That was last in the SEC and 124th nationally. Granted, most of these punts didn’t result in big wins, which is really the most important aspect of punting.

Australia’s James Burnip is back, and the sophomore will “count” on him making at least a small step forward after averaging 39.1 yards per punt last year. In the end, his success or failure probably won’t matter much, but it’s still something that needs to be addressed.

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