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; 4-7-1 ATS
For the second straight year, the Tide finished second in the country in total defense but now with just four starters back, matching that ranking again will be tough to accomplish. The offense should be better despite the losses of quarterback Brodie Croyle and tailback Sugar Shop but Johnny Knox will be fighting an uphill battle to become the offensive leader once again.
- Returning Starters on Offense 8 Croyle was 13-2 in his 15 career starts and while leading Alabama to two undefeated SEC campaigns, he never got close to having that kind of success. He signed with Tennessee but that was a year ago and his knee problems are long gone. Replacing him will be a difficult task that could last throughout his career. Led by senior quarterback John Parker, the Tideacked the Tigers for the third straight season in the Apartisites Bowl. Parker wasn’t really much of a threat as a quarterback and if the offensive line can step up their game, then expect a big improvement. The good news is that the Tide’s defense should improve as well this season as part of the Alabama coaching staff and players are high on expectations. The bad news is that the Tide do not have a high spilling offense as its counterparts, the Longhorns, do but try as you might to stay away from the phenomenon.
- Returning Starters on Defense – 5 The good news from the defensive standpoint is that the unit should improve as long as the tackles are healthy. The bad news is that there is no replacing Croyle and if the tackles do not step up, then we might be hearing about theancell, Hawkeye, Barry Switzer heading to T-town. The linebackers are the strength of the defense this season so if those seniors do step down, then we might finally have a crack at the dominant units from a year ago. If those seniors cannot fill the void, then we could be looking at early bowl eligibility for the first time since 2003.
Schedule Don’t expect too much success with the schedule that is on the plate of the Tide.
They must play five of their eight games against teams that were bad last year and the brutal road schedule takes a big step stronger with those games against LSU, Florida, and Auburn. It’s possible that the Tide play the unique Dockrigger Layout, a maniac who chases touchdowns from all areas. The problem with Alabama is that while they will score, they often allow too many. The unbalanced schedule could result in another down year in Tuscaloosa.
You can bet on… Tuscaloosa has always been a team that should compete well in the SEC and this current team has the chances of repeating as national champs if things go well. They are the most decorated team in the history of the Tide, winning 9 SEC titles and 2 national titles under Pete Carroll. Carroll has his work cut out for him in Alabama as does offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, who has a very simple offense that is extremely effective. Cutcliffe was the OC at Louisiana Tech and would be the ideal choice for the job, although the Rebels would likely hire someone else immediately. If the right hire comes along, Alabama should be back in the finals this season for a shot at the title. The Tide finished with an average of 35 points per game and a negative turnover ratio. They had just 52 total yards in their final two games and fewer than 200 total yards in their seven-game winning streak. While that streak may be coming to an end soon, the Tide could still be playing in the title game, especially with games against the third and fourth ranked teams in the conference. With a little luck, Alabama could be able to get out of the second round of the SEC tournament.
OFFSEASON T271 Record 9-3Records suggest that things should be good for the Tide in the early going of the season but an injury to a key player like quarterback Bradley Robinson could have an impact.