What is the biggest question mark facing Alabama heading into the 2024 season?

On Jan. 10, 2024, the world stopped for a moment as legendary Alabama Crimso Tide head football coach Nick Saban made the shocking decision to step away from football and retire from coaching. It was one of those earth-shattering moments that almost everyone, including non-Alabama fans, will be able to tell you exactly where they were when the news broke. The ensuing days were chaos filled with coaching rumors, transfer alerts and a profound level of sadness.

Fast forward four months, and yeah the loss of Saban still stings, but there is a very strong sense of optimism surrounding new head coach Kalen Deboer and what this new era of Alabama football might look like. DeBoer is picking up steam on the recruiting trail and the team had a phenomenal showing at the annual spring game A-Day, but that doesn’t mean everything has been sunshine and rainbows in Tuscaloosa.

DeBoer is a national champion-level coach and widely regarded as one of the top two or three coaches in the country, but replacing the value of Nick Saban is nearly impossible. Adam Rittenberg of ESPN breaks down (Subscription required) the biggest question currently facing the Crimson Tide: How has Alabama adjusted to life post-Saban?

“There have been some obstacles. DeBoer’s initial plan was to have Ryan Grubb, DeBoer’s offensive coordinator at both Washington and Fresno State, oversee quarterback Jalen Milroe and the Tide offense. But Grubb stayed in Seattle to work for the Seahawks, alongside talented offensive line coach Scott Huff. DeBoer went with familiarity in promoting Nick Sheridan and JaMarcus Shephard — Sheridan as the playcaller — and hired veteran line coach Chris Kapilovic to fill Huff’s role. Despite the moving parts on the staff and a new scheme for players, Alabama didn’t let up during spring ball.

“We pushed hard, even the installs and all that,” DeBoer said. “We’ve really kept the pedal down on trying to get things to our guys. A credit to them, too, because they’ve embraced it all. They want to be great. That’s why they’re here. The players have dived into it and put in the extra time on their own to make every practice real efficient.”

On-the-field success in 2024 will be the true indicator of how life is truly going in Tuscaloosa, but I think anything short of a playoff appearance will be a disappointment in DeBoer’s mind. DeBoer and his new staff will make their debut inside Bryant-Denny Stadium on Aug. 31, 2024 against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

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Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire