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Predictions for Alabama football in 2015

Photo by: Cedric Mason/TDAL Magazine

Head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide will start fall camp Aug. 6.

A 16th national championship is the goal, but it must navigate successfully through a tough schedule. Many media members have stated that no Southeastern Conference team will go undefeated or even have one loss this season. The writers of Touchdown Alabama Magazine give their predictions on how Alabama will do in 2015.

 

Scott Hodnett- Recruiting Analyst (Alabama to go 9-3)

First of all – as an Alabama fan – I want nothing more than for the Tide to make the College Football Playoff for the second straight year. However, as a writer, it is my job to provide facts, strong opinions, and to be as objective as as Alabama fan can possibly be.

Having said that, I do not think we will be cheering on the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff this year. I do not think Alabama will win the SEC West, the SEC championship, or be celebrating their 16th national championship when its all said and done. Now before you revoke my Alabama fan card, just hear me out.

I think it is safe to say Alabama overachieved in 2014. No one expected Blake Sims to break records in his first – and only – season under center for the Tide. We did not know that Kiffin would make the offense so productive, and in doing so, make up for clear deficiencies in the defense.

While the porous secondary proved too much to overcome, the Crimson Tide ended up having a fantastic season in 2014. With a similar quarterback situation for this upcoming season, why could Alabama not come out on top of the SEC again? Well the answer is they could.

I, for one, just do not think they will.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe Alabama could be better in numerous areas on the field. The secondary – even losing Landon Collins and Nick Perry – could be improved.

Whoever lines up under center should blossom under the quarterback whisperer, Lane Kiffin. The offensive line combined with Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake could be explosive. Even with losing Amari Cooper, the amount of talent in the receiving corps is undeniable.

The front seven could be the best in America. Oh, and that’s not mentioning the biggest weapon on the entire team, punter JK Scott – the field flipping sophomore who single-handedly kept the Tide in the game against Ohio State.

So why do I think Alabama is not primed make the College Football Playoff?

The question marks are there – some big question marks at that -, but I think those will all work themselves out. However, something which is unavoidable, and something that keeps coming to mind as the main reason for me that Alabama misses the Playoff is the schedule.

The preseason Coaches’ Poll was released last week, and Alabama saw quite a few opponents show up in it. In fact, Alabama faces NINE of the Top 25 in the recent poll.

If you approach that as nine losable games for the Crimson Tide, then it becomes more clear how truly difficult making it back to the Playoff will be.

A neutral site game against Wisconsin kicks off the season. This is a losable game, but in my opinion, no where near the hardest on the schedule. Home games against Middle Tennessee State, Ole Miss, and Louisiana-Monroe round out the rest of September. All of which should be victories.

Then comes possibly the hardest month of any schedule in the country, October.

A month which the Crimson Tide find themselves with four straight weeks of games that are more than losable. On the road at Georgia, home against Arkansas, back on the road at Texas A&M, then home against Tennessee before a much needed off week.

Personally, I don’t believe any team in the country could make it through that October undefeated. After a bye, LSU comes to town, then it’s back on the road against Mississippi State. Charleston Southern is practically another bye, then its on the road at Auburn to round the schedule out.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the toughest schedule in the nation for 2015. In my opinion – with that schedule – Alabama looks like a 9-3 team. If you play the numbers game, 6 out of the 9 losable games really isn’t that bad. Honestly, they would easily be the best 9-3 team in the country. So there you have it.

That is how I believe Alabama could actually be better than they were a year ago, yet lose 3 regular season games. Here’s hoping I am completely wrong.

You can “like” Scott Hodnett on Facebook or “follow” him Twitter, via @ScottHodnett.

 

Ivan White- Contributing writer (Alabama to go 14-0)

An undefeated season is always something coaches try to stray away from saying, in order to keep expectations low. However, if you’re the Alabama Crimson Tide, nothing can be said to bring expectations down in Tuscaloosa.

For this season, instead of seeing why this Alabama team could finish with two or more losses, I chose to see this season for what it could truly be, a dynasty-building undefeated season.

The reason an undefeated season can occur in 2015 for the Crimson Tide is simple and can be broken down into two simple parts, depth and schedule.

Depth: Last season, the Crimson Tide had stars like Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon to lead the offense. Cooper broke many records last season for the Tide, while leading the SEC in receiving. This season, Alabama may not have a receiver with the talent of Cooper, but instead they have many sure handed receivers.

Receivers like Chris Black, Robert FosterArDarius Stewart, and tight end O.J. Howard will be the leaders on a receiving corps that may not have a definite leader, but instead a core that will have multiple play makers with talent.

In the backfield, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake will be a combo that becomes one of the best not only in the SEC, but in the entire country. With the power of Henry and the speed and catching ability of Drake, the Tide will have a dangerous duo that won’t be easy to contain for anyone.

The receiving and backfield depth is just one example of how this entire team is deep. To a defense that returns seven starters with a great defensive line, this team has the capability to obtain an undefeated season.

Schedule: Although ranked the toughest in the country, the 2015 schedule for Alabama may not be as difficult or impossible to finish undefeated as many may think.

To start the season off, the Tide will begin with Wisconsin, a team returning only five starters on offense.  After a matchup with Middle Tennessee, the Tide moves on to the team that handed them their only regular season loss last season, the Ole Miss Rebels.

Ole Miss will enter Bryant-Denny Stadium looking to accomplish something that hasn’t been done in nearly 40 years, win a game in Tuscaloosa. The last time Mississippi left victorious from Tuscaloosa was in 1988, and with quarterback issues of their own, a win might be asking too much of the Rebels.

After a game with Louisiana-Monroe, the Tide will travel to Athens to face Georgia. The Bulldogs will have replace two All-SEC linebackers, and also their leader in interceptions, Damian Swann. The depth of Alabama’s offense could be too much for Georgia.

Back-to-back game against teams with defensive questions in Texas A&M, the worst defense in the SEC in 2014 and Arkansas, a team replacing six key starters on defense will help the Tide chances of being undefeated thus far.

Consecutive game inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, a place where the Crimson Tide were undefeated last season against rivals Tennessee and LSU will be two difficult games. However, the emotion and atmosphere of fans at Bryant-Denny should lead the Tide to victory.

Alabama will travel to Starkville to face Mississippi State and look to continue their seven game win streak against the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs will only return eight total starters this season and even with the return of Dak Prescott, too many new pieces will eventually lead to a Crimson Tide victory.

After a game with Charleston Southern, Alabama will travel to Auburn to face the very talented Tigers. The Tigers will look to replace six starters on offense, including quarterback Nick Marshall. The key to this game will be Auburn’s pass rush, which only produced 10 sacks in SEC play last season, and ranked ninth in total defense.

This schedule might seem like too much to ask for a team to go undefeated with, but it is a sustainable task. This year, the Tide can impress the entire country with just how much of a total team it is. Every team on their schedule has a weakness and with the coaching staff at Alabama and the talent on this team those weakness can and will be taken advantage of, if Alabama remains focused.

You can “like” Ivan White on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ilwhite1.

 

Stephen M. Smith- Senior analyst and columnist (Alabama to go 11-1)

It will be difficult for a Southeastern Conference team to go undefeated this season.

Alabama has an opportunity to achieve its 16th national championship, but a gruesome schedule lies in the midst. ESPN projects the Crimson Tide to win eight games; however, it can run the table with one loss. Its matchup with Georgia at Sanford Stadium (Athens, Ga.) will be a critical game. A win on the road against a tough SEC opponent helps Alabama’s confidence.

Auburn, LSU and Georgia all will serve as entertaining games against Alabama, but media members and college football fans are overlooking one team in particular, Texas A&M.

It was a dog fight in the first two seasons for Alabama against Texas A&M. Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel shocked the world in 2012, by leading the Aggies into Bryant-Denny Stadium and defeating Alabama 29-24. AJ McCarron put the Crimson Tide on his back in 2013, as Alabama returned the favor to Kyle Field in a 49-42 victory.

Embarrassment is what happened to the Aggies last season. Kenny Hill couldn’t establish anything on offense, yet Alabama was in sync in all phases. It shutout Texas A&M, 59-0.

Quite a few true freshmen played for Texas A&M in 2014, including quarterback Kyle Allen.

He is expected to make more strides this year, after ending last season on a good note.

The Aggies return Speedy Noil, Sabian Holmes, Ricky Seals-Jones, Josh Reynolds and Edward Pope at wide receiver. It has decent one, two punch in the run game with Tra Carson and Brandon Williams. Defensively, John Chavis will have this team prepared for Alabama.

The positioning of the Alabama-Texas A&M game is a pivotal factor. The Crimson Tide will have faced two heavy run teams in Georgia and Arkansas, prior to meeting Texas A&M.

A physical wear and tear could leave Alabama vulnerable to the spread offense, if it’s not watchful. This year’s team returns experience and youth, but it has a daunting task.

Much pressure lies on the SEC to win another championship. Much pressure lies on Alabama to keep itself ahead of the pack. Going undefeated would be the best case scenario for this team, yet Texas A&M may be the one game it drops. The Aggies have this one circled.

You can “like” Stephen M. Smith on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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