Alabama Crimson Tide Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Alabama Crimson Tide Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Alabama season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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Alabama Crimson Tide Preview
Head Coach: Nick Saban, 178-25, 15th year at Alabama
26th year overall, 269-67-1, 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 13-2, Conference: 7-1
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Alabama Top 10 Players | Bama Schedule & Analysis

Alabama Crimson Tide Preview 2022

Don’t hate the player, hate the game … adapt or die … trust the process …

However strong you want to go with your cliché game, it’s really an easy formula for what might be the highest-level dominant era in the long history of college football …

Nick Saban knows what he’s doing.

He’s known for recruiting and coaching up talent to an NFL level, but what he doesn’t get quite enough credit for is his ability to change, tweak, and work with whatever he has at his disposal to keep on winning.

There was a time when Alabama won national championships with defenses that ranked among the greatest ever, and with quarterbacks who – to be nice about it – weren’t exactly Bryce Young or Mac Jones.

It was always an interesting question – what would Alabama do if Saban could get the elite quarterbacks with NFL talent to take over the offense? And then came Jalen, Tua, Mac, and Bryce.

All of a sudden, Alabama went from being the best program thanks to the D and toughness on O, to turning the college football world on its ear by cranking up the offensive side to a whole other level.

And then a funny thing happened along the way – Alabama lost the national championship to a team that essentially seemed like a throwback to the 2009 Crimson Tide.

Oh, he’ll never say it at alumni and donor functions, but you just know he’s seething that it’s a far different game in Indianapolis if Jameson Williams doesn’t get hurt and if John Metchie was able to go.

Just like Texas fans swear the 2010 BCS Championship against that 2009 Bama team would’ve been far more interesting if Colt McCoy doesn’t get injured right away.

Saban pointed to the idea that the next man up had to do the job in the loss to the Bulldogs, but that loss and those receiver injuries signaled a breakdown in the process and that’s very much not okay. Now comes the adjustment.

Bad things happen to the rest of college football when this program gets motivated by a missed opportunity. That starts with working with the system as it is, not as Saban might want it to be.

It’s a control thing. All coaches despise the slightest altering to the routine and the potential loss of anything that might be outside of their authoritarian rule, and Bama deals with that by controlling the change.

Saban might grouse about new things happening in college football, and then he and Bama will steer into the skid, accept the changes, and work them better than anything else.

He wasn’t all that happy about the early recruiting signing period – and Alabama simply moved up the timetable and got their star players sooner than normal.

He’ll shake his fist at the NIL cloud, and in another breath discuss the deal his quarterback received, all while giving a “what are you going to do?” look knowing that Alabama will be one of the places to be for endorsement deals.

He’ll comment about the transfer portal, and yet he just found his wide receivers, starting left tackle, and new star running back through it.

He’ll cause a stir by breaking into Jimbo Fisher’s kitchen to make biscuits, even though Bama will do everything within the system to take advantage of all the rules – like having a loaded coaching staff worth of assistants and parts making around $10 million a year.

All the while, the program will keep on winning.

It’ll be the preseason No. 1 team in all the polls – if it’s not, someone’s trying to be quirky – and for all the questions and concerns about the O line, and No. 1 receiver, and the penalties, and the inexperience at backup quarterback …

Nothing stops no matter how different things are going forward. The Tide keep rolling on.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Alabama Top 10 Players | Bama Schedule & Analysis

Alabama Crimson Tide Preview 2022: Offense, Defense

Alabama Crimson Tide Preview 2022: Offense

It was a strange year for the Alabama offense. It was explosive, it was fantastic, it was loaded with talent, it quite possibly came within a Jameson Williams injury away from pulling out a national title, and it had a funky way of taking a nap for long stretches.

It’s hard to argue with the overall production – seventh in the nation overall averaging 488 yards per game, sixth in scoring averaging 40 points per outing, No. 3 in third down conversions, and the quarterback did win that Heisman thing – but it left the party a bit early in the close call against Florida, didn’t get the invite against Auburn until it was almost too late, and it had to work way too hard in the 20-14 win over LSU.

The big-time stats will be there, and there will be those forget-about-it games when it hangs 50 on the board in a light scrimmage, but the consistency has to start with …

The offensive line. It gets back three starters and welcomes in Vanderbilt’s Tyler Steen to take over at left tackle, but it was among the worst in the nation in sacks allowed, was last in the SEC in tackles for loss allowed, and it wasn’t as strong as it should’ve been for the ground attack.

Even so, Emil Ekiyor is an NFL blocker at guard, JC Lathan should be fine at right tackle, and things should be fine if Steen does what he’s supposed to.

There are two big differences, though, for this year’s line. Bryce Young should be an even faster decision maker thanks to his experience, and they have a different type of back to block for.

Brian Robinson was a terrific, tough guy runner, and Najee Harris was obviously special before his life as a Pittsburgh Steeler. Bama hasn’t had a home run hitter at RB, though, like Jahmyr Gibbs in a while.

The Georgia Tech transfer has 5-11, 200-pound size, and he can move when he gets into the open. Give him a little bit of a crease and he’ll rip off yards in chunks.

Trey Sanders is back after finishing second on the team with 314 yards and two scores, and Jase McClellan is a good option who needs more work.

The focus will be on the offensive line early on, but Alabama needs receivers to rise up and rock. It’s Bama, so the playmakers will be there, but Jameson Williams (Detroit), John Metchie (Houston), DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia), Jaylen Waddle (Miami), Jerry Jeudy (Denver), Henry Ruggs (former Raider), and Calvin Ridley (Atlanta) set the wide receiver bar ridiculously high over the last few years.

The hope is for Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton to be another Williams – a deep threat who’ll blow up in the system with more chances.

Burton caught 53 passes for 901 yards and eight touchdowns over the last two years – averaging 17 yards per catch – and now he’ll get his shot to be a volume catcher. Louisville’s Tyler Harrell only caught 18 passes last year, but he averaged 29 yards per grab and scored six times.

The tight end situation is terrific. Cameron Latu was third on the team with 410 yards and eight scores as a big deep threat who can do it all.

Oh yeah, and there’s Bryce Young to make everyone better.

The coolest guy in the room, he played with a maturity and demeanor beyond his years with 47 touchdown passes and just seven picks in his Heisman season. He kept on producing even after losing his top receivers to injury, and he came close to pulling out a national title with an undermanned attack with a legendary Georgia D knocking him around.

Star recruit Ty Simpson is the main man in waiting, but redshirt freshman Jalen Milroe is the key backup for now.

List

Alabama Crimson Tide Top 10 Players: College Football Preview 2022

Alabama Crimson Tide Preview 2022: Defense

It’s not quite right to say the defense has slipped over the last few seasons from its unreasonably high standards, but the focus has been more on the offensive side as the program adapted to the modern era of the game.

The D was the best it’s been since 2017 with a dominant pass rush, a stifling run defense, and allowing just 304 yards and 20 points per game. Even so, it can do more. It just might with all the phenomenal talent returning. It starts with …

The pass rush. There’s no questioning Bryce Young’s Heisman win – the guy really was the most valuable player as well as the most outstanding – buuuuuuuuut, yeah, you’re not wrong if you think Will Anderson deserved it. All he did was come up with 17.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss from his hybrid Jack position.

He’s back, and the rest of the linebacking corps is outstanding, too. Pass rusher Dallas Turner returns on the strongside, and leading tackler Henry To’o To’o is back in the middle to get to everything against the run.

The front three might not be in charge of getting into the backfield with the linebackers doing the heavy lifting, but end Byron Young will come up with his share of tackles for loss. 6-3, 300-pound DJ Dale will anchor the D on the nose, and there’s a whole lot of depth to rotate around and like Bama always does.

How good is the Alabama secondary situation? It’s already terrific with veterans in place, and the – arguably – two best players aren’t quite in the mix yet.

Jordan Battle is a next-level safety who came up with 87 tackles with three interceptions, Brian Branch made 55 stops and broke up nine passes from his safety spot, the corners are solid with Kool-Aid McKinstry and Khyree Jackson ready to step up, and …

LSU transfer Eli Ricks is an All-American who’ll quickly grab one corner job once he’s healthy after undergoing shoulder surgery, and Malachi Moore is one of the team’s best pro prospects who wasn’t quite right last year with a back problem. If and when they’re healthy, they’re the stars of the show.

Alabama 2022 Preview | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Alabama Top 10 Players | Bama Schedule & Analysis

Alabama Crimson Tide: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

Alabama Crimson Tide: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

Alabama Crimson Tide: Key To The 2022 Offense

The pass protection has to be better.

The receiving corps will be fine as long as Bryce Young isn’t getting popped. The running game will be great as long as Jahmyr Gibbs has space to move. Obviously that all comes down to an offensive line that has to be stronger and more consistent.

Think what Young could do if he had time to work.

It’s hardly a bad line – the talent level is there to come up with a fantastic season – but it has to keep defenses from always enjoying a delightful meal in the backfield.

The 2020 line allowed 1.46 sacks and 4.08 tackles for loss per game.  The 2021 version gave up 6.93 tackles for loss and 2.73 sacks per outing.

Georgia’s D was stopped cold in the SEC Championship, but it cranked it up in the national title game with four sacks and nine tackles for loss.

Auburn’s defensive front went off. Ole Miss, LSU, Arkansas, and Texas A&M each came up with four sacks, and just about everyone was able to make big things happen against the run.

Alabama Crimson Tide: Key To The 2022 Defense

Force more takeaways.

The Tide managed to generate 22 of them, but there were a whole lot of lulls.

The D recovered just two fumbles in the first eight games, didn’t come up with a pick in either of the two playoff dates, and generated multiple takeaways in just three of the last 13 games.

Two of takeaways changed the SEC Championship win over Georgia, three led to the blowout over Mississippi State, and two helped save the day against LSU. That was it – five of the 22 came in the first two games against Miami and Mercer.

With all the pressure coming from the front seven, the big plays have to follow.

Alabama Crimson Tide: Key Player To The 2022 Season

OT Tyler Steen, Sr.
Can the Vanderbilt transfer be amazing at left tackle?

The pressure is on for what has become one of the highest-profile non-quarterback positions in college football.

The 6-5, 315-pounder started his career on the defensive front, moved to right tackle, flipped to the left side, and now he’s being asked to step in for new New York Giant tackle Evan Neal.

As long as he does his job, the rest of the line should be okay.

Alabama Crimson Tide: Key Transfer

RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Jr.
The former Georgia Tech back wasn’t used nearly enough.

He earned All-ACC honors as a kick returner as well as a runner, but he only carried the ball 232 times in his two seasons – he only got 20 carries once last year.

Versatile, Gibbs caught 59 passes for 768 yards and five scores, averaged 5.2 yards per carry with eight touchdowns, and averaged 25.6 yards per kickoff return. It’s his job to be the next great Alabama back, and he should explode with plenty of big plays.

Alabama Key Game To The 2022 Season

at Arkansas, Oct. 1
There are landmines all over the place on the schedule. There aren’t any the team can’t sidestep, but Texas, Tennessee, LSU, and Ole Miss are all road games. All of them are very, very dangerous, and that doesn’t even include the West showdown against Texas A&M.

Texas is the first road game, but that’s one of those moments Bama is built for. It’s the second road date of the season that could be the problem.

Bama struggled in the road opener at Florida last year and lost he second one against Texas A&M. This year, the Arkansas game is the first conference away game – and second road trip of the season – against an offense that provided a whole slew of problems in the 42-35 Tide win.

Worst of all, it comes right before the dates with A&M and Tennessee. There can’t be any lack of focus.

Alabama Crimson Tide: 2021 Fun Stats

– 2nd Quarter Scoring: Alabama 210 – Opponents 67
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 17-of-31 (55%) – Alabama 9-of-18 (50%)
– Field Goals: Alabama 23-of-29 – Opponents 17-of-17

Alabama 2022 Preview | Alabama 2022 Preview
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Alabama Top 10 Players | Bama Schedule & Analysis

Alabama Crimson Tide Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

Alabama Crimson Tide Season Prediction, What Will Happen

No one’s going to cry any tears for Alabama about anything, especially having to play a difficult schedule.

For just about anyone else at a top 25 level, this is maybe a 7-5 slate if things go well. For the average team, forget about a winning season.

For Alabama, it could go 12-0 – it’ll be favored in every game – but there are some big curveballs to be worried about.

What happens if Bryce Young gets banged up for a stretch? What if the receiving corps didn’t simply reload with more superstar talent? What if Texas A&M rises up and becomes the IT team of 2022, or maybe it’s Texas, or …

Set The Alabama Crimson Tide Regular Season Win Total At … 11

Going to Texas will be dangerous. The Tennessee offense is a problem, LSU will have a starting 22 that can hang with anyone, the Ole Miss attack is always going to be worrisome, and going to Arkansas will be a fight. Those are all on the road.

Even the body blows might add up. No way Bama loses the opener to Utah State, but that’s against the defending Mountain West champion.

Texas A&M is a home game, but that comes right after going to Arkansas and right before a trip to Tennessee. Mississippi State and Auburn have to come to Tuscaloosa, but both teams should be better.

There will be a loss, but as always with Bama, it’s going to take something big for there to be a second.

Alabama 2022 Preview
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Alabama Top 10 Players | Bama Schedule & Analysis

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

Story originally appeared on College Football News