Producing a winning season is easy for most college football teams. It is winning consistently and having a style of dominance behind it that is not so simple. Three things arrive with every waking moment: a new scenery, new accomplishments and new challenges. For the Alabama Crimson Tide, this upcoming season will provide two of those three things. After winning two BCS National Championships, it is clear that Alabama is the measuring stick in the Southeastern Conference and every team wants a shot at dethroning them. One of the main aspects that coach Saban teaches his players is how to play through adversity. The Crimson Tide faced adversity in four games last season, three of them (Ole Miss, LSU and Georgia) resulted in victories. The second thing we know about Nick Saban is that he doesn’t dwell on the past too long. Like a chess game, his mind is constantly going forward and anticipating what’s on the other side of the horizon for the Tide.
Along with coach Saban and Alabama, other teams in the SEC are poised to make a run to Pasadena, Calif., and have the opportunity to hoist up a national championship. The one thing separating these teams from doing so is a trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium. This season, half of Alabama’s SEC schedule will be played inside of the ruckus stadium filled with 101,821 fans. Though having home-field advantage will be good for the Tide, it may also send a signal of confidence toward the underdogs that will try to defeat the defending champions. With this being said, here are the teams in the SEC that Alabama will need to keep its eye on in the 2013 College Football Season.
TEAMS (SEC) TO LOOK FOR
Texas A&M Aggies (2012)
o 11-2 overall (6-2 in conference) record
o Texas A&M defeated Alabama 29-24 last season (Manziel 24-31 passing for 253 yards and 2 TD’s)
o QB Johnny Manziel (68.0 percent of passes completed, 5,115 total yards, 47 total TD’s and the 2013 Heisman Trophy Winner)
o RB Ben Malena (138 carries for 808 yards and 8 TD’s)
o WR Mike Evans (82 receptions for 1,105 yards and 5 TD’s)
o LB Deshazor Everett (55 total tackles and 2 INT’s)
o Texas A&M will be without Luke Joeckel and Ryan Swope this season.
LSU Tigers (2012)
o 10-3 overall (6-2 in conference) record
o Alabama defeated LSU last season 21-17 in Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, LA)
o QB Zach Mettenberger (58.8 percent of passes completed, 2,609 yards, 12 TD’s and 7 INT’s)
o Mettenberger’s best performance passing the football was against Alabama (24-35 passing for 298 yards and a touchdown)
o RB Jeremy Hill (142 carries for 755 yards and 12 TD’s)
o RB Kenny Hilliard (82 carries for 464 yards and 6 TD’s)
o WR Odell Beckham (43 receptions for 713 yards and 2 TD’s)
o WR Jarvis Landry (56 receptions for 573 yards and 5 TD’s)
o Offensively for LSU, the question is can Zach Mettenberger become an efficient passer and make wise decisions with the football this season.
o Defensively, John Chavis is going to have his guys ready to play no matter who he places on the field.
Mississippi Rebels (2012)
o 7-6 overall (3-5 in conference) record
o QB Bo Wallace (63.9 percent of passes completed, 2,994 yards, 22 TD’s and 17 INT’s)
o QB/ATH Randall Mackey is going to be X-factor for the Rebels this season because of his versatility. Coach Hugh Freeze can play him at QB, RB or WR. The question is will Mackey be productive?
o RB Jeff Scott (197 carries for 846 yards and 6 TD’s)
o WR Donte Moncrief (66 receptions for 979 yards and 10 TD’s)
o Coach Freeze did a tremendous this offseason in recruiting by bringing the No.5 ranked recruiting class in the nation. This included the No.1 DE, OT and WR.
o Though Alabama defeated Mississippi last season, Ole Miss did a great job challenging the Tide.
Auburn Tigers (2012)
o 3-9 overall (0-8 in conference) record
o QB Kiehl Frazier (53.4 percent of passes completed, 753 yards, 2 TD’s and 8 INT’s)
o QB Jonathan Wallace (57.5 percent of passes completed, 720 yards, 4 TD’s and 4 INT’s)
o RB Tre Mason (171 carries for 1,002 yards and 8 TD’s)
o DE Nosa Egaue (6’3 268 lbs. He struggled last year, but he is the leader of the defensive line)
o DT Kenneth Carter (6’4 289 lbs. He is going to really have to step up and fill the shoes left by Corey Lemonier)
o DB Ryan Smith (6’2 204 lbs. The question for him this season is can he cover the explosive receivers in the SEC?)
o Auburn needs receivers this season to help Frazier and Wallace. Emory Blake and Phillip Lutzenkirchen are gone.
o The Tigers are looking for the next big thing (Bo Jackson, Tommy Tuberville, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Jason Campbell and Cam Newton) can Coach Guz Malzahn provide them with that?
o Auburn brought in the No.11 ranked recruiting class in the nation this offseason.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
o 8-5 overall (4-4 in conference) record
o QB Tyler Russell (58.6 percent of passes completed, 2,897 yards, 24 TD’s and 10 INT’s)
o RB LaDarius Perkins (205 carries for 1,016 yards and 8 TD’s)
o Like Auburn, Mississippi State needs to establish a receiving core.
o The Bulldogs defense has always been competitive, but this season they need to push more to get over the hump.
o Under Coach Dan Mullen, Mississippi State has always started the season well only to crumble going down the stretch. Will this trend happen again?
Virginia Tech Hookies
o 7-6 overall (4-4 in conference) record
o QB Logan Thomas (51.3 percent of passes completed, 2,976 yards, 18 TD’s and 16 INT’s)
o QB Logan Thomas (174 carries for 524 yards and 9 TD’s)
o RB J.C. Coleman (109 carries for 492 yards and 2 TD’s)
o If the Hookies want to defeat Alabama, they must have receivers that are going to help Logan Thomas
o Logan Thomas has to become a leader at the QB position. He can’t turn the ball over if he wants to lead VT to victory against Alabama.
o Defensively, Virginia Tech has to back to their style of hard hitting, fundamentally sound football under defensive coordinator Bud Foster
o With Dyrell Roberts in the NFL, who will Coach Frank Beamer have on special teams as the return specialist?