1 Alabama - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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1 Alabama

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

We were really concerned about [6'2", 218-pound] Jalen Hurts running the ball against us. They do a good job not asking him to do too much in the passing game. The hard part is even on third-and-long, he can still run and get a first down. We wanted Hurts to beat us throwing the football. He has a strong arm and he can get hot, but he isn't consistent. But he drove them down the field to win the national championship. It just so happens [Deshaun Watson] drove his team to win the national championship right after that. They have huge guys everywhere, but Bo Scarbrough [a 6'2", 235-pound junior] is a really big back who can move. So is the freshman [6'2", 227 Najee Harris]. CALVIN RIDLEY [a 6'1", 190-pound junior receiver] is always a threat.

They've got some cats to replace up front on defense. Talent is not the issue. Experience matters. Number 94 [6'2", 308 junior tackle Da'Ron] Payne is a load, but we'll see how the new guys do. They're going to be well prepared. They're not exotic, but they play with great fundamentals. You don't have to be talented to be a technician, but when you add the talent to being a technician, that's when you get elite. You beat them by making contested catches one-on-one against those long corners. [Minkah] Fitzpatrick (left) can play any position in the secondary, and that gives them options.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % (34TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT (49TH)

COMPLETION % (16TH)

YARDS PER CARRY (8TH)

SACKS ALLOWED (44TH)

TURNOVERS LOST (56TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE (30TH)

YARDS PER PLAY (22ND)

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % ALLOWED (8TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT ALLOWED (7TH)

COMPLETION % ALLOWED (19TH)

YARDS PER CARRY ALLOWED (1ST)

SACKS (1ST)

TURNOVERS GAINED (5TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE ALLOWED (1ST)

YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED (1ST)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RATING

49

The Tide can overcome a loss against Florida State in Atlanta (9/2) if they blow through the conference: Bama is 25--2 in SEC play in the last three years. LSU's visit (11/4) could be a thriller, but the SEC West race should come down to the Iron Bowl at an improved Auburn (11/25).

THE PLAYER TO KNOW

Offensive tackle JONAH WILLIAMS played on the right side as a freshman, and this year he moves to the left. As a recruit Williams impressed coaches by asking detailed questions about the Tide's scheme, so he should quickly master his role in new coordinator Brian Daboll's offense. He proved himself as a run blocker last year, but his attention to detail and his athleticism suggest he'll be as much a technician in the passing game as he is a mauler in the ground game. Williams's ability to blow open holes will help the Tide's deep stable of backs—Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs—and make the read-option decisions easier for quarterback Jalen Hurts.