Alabama Football: Five Things the Tide Need To Reclaim the SEC

Posted by Trey Hickman on February-20-2011 Add Comments

After taking home the 2009 BCS National Championship, the Alabama Crimson Tide entered last season with high hopes of a repeat performance.

Needless to say, underachievement would ultimately define the Tide’s 2010 campaign. While a 10-3 season would elicit envy from most programs, relative to the expectations at the Capstone, it’s decidedly unacceptable.  

With 2011 just around the corner, the talent on Alabama’s roster is typical of the Nick Saban regime. And you can bet they will be unwaveringly focused after last season’s letdowns.

However, to rise back to the top of the SEC as well as the national landscape, five things have to take place. 


1. A Healthy Trent Richardson

Richardson is arguably the most talented running back in the nation. He has everything you look for in a franchise ball-carrier, except the ability to stay on the field. At least that’s been the case so far. 

He missed significant time last season due to injury, and it’s imperative his health woes are a thing of the past if the probability of Alabama’s winning another SEC and national title is to be maximized. While the backups are more than capable of putting up good numbers, Richardson is clearly top among the Tide rushers.

A 2011 season free of time on the sidelines might find Richardson contending for the Heisman Trophy and Alabama challenging for its second BCS championship in three seasons. 

2. A Healthy Dont’a Hightower

Hightower could be eyeing a first-round selection in this year’s NFL draft had he not played the 2010 season on the rebound from a torn ACL. Like Richardson, there’s talent galore. It’s only a matter of staying healthy.

Hightower was obviously not 100 percent, and it showed up in his play. He will not only need to function as the intellectual leader of the Tide defense, he also has to lead by example as one the most physically gifted linebackers in the country. 


3. An Improved Pass Rush

The 2010 Tide defense routinely bottled up opposing runners, yet pressure on the quarterback was virtually nonexistent.

That has to change.

Alabama has ample talent on the defensive front, and that unit is about to be bolstered by the arrival of defensive end standouts Xzavier Dickson and Jeffrey Pagan, both 4-star talents in the Class of 2012. Those guys may play a big role in Alabama’s displaying more proficiency in the pass-rush department. 


4. Development In the Defensive Secondary

There is noteworthy ability in the back end of the Tide defense, but a whole lot of youth meant less-than-impressive results last season.

After a year under Saban, a defensive back guru, the young guys should be ready to take the next step and start justifying their lofty recruiting rankings. The skills are present. It’s all about producing on Saturdays.


5. Efficiency From the New Quarterback

No matter who hits the field as Alabama’s heir apparent to Greg McElroy, he’ll have to protect the ball.

Sure, there will be games when the rookie will need to put up a substantial amount passing yards, but for the most part, it’s all about efficiency. A requisite completion percentage and a commendable touchdown-interception ratio comprise what the Alabama offense needs.

With Richardson and a stellar defense on hand, the new guy under center needs to primarily be a game-manager and not someone who feels the burden of winning himself. 


(Special visual modification contributor: Susan H. DeGeorge)

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