Dr. Saturday Doc Five: Spring game revelations – No. 1, Alabama’s passing game might make it unbeatable

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



Whenever nitpicking Alabama's weaknesses, it's relative. Alabama's weaknesses would be strengths for most other teams in the country.

But the Crimson Tide's running won't be the same in 2013. Last year Alabama had one of the greatest offensive lines in college football history. There's a chance four of the five starters will at some point be first-round NFL picks, and the fifth, center Barrett Jones, might have had the best college career of the group. Three of those linemen are in this year's draft. There's also a good chance that Eddie Lacy will be the first running back drafted by the NFL next week. That's a lot of star power to lose.

T.J. Yeldon is a can't miss star at running back and returning starting linemen left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and right guard Anthony Steen are fantastic. But the running game will not be the same, not without losing four great components.

Still, it's pretty obvious Alabama will run the ball better than most teams. And it might not be an issue, because through the spring it looks like the Crimson Tide's passing offense is getting ready to become unstoppable.

Alabama's spring game is this weekend, but the two scrimmages so far this season have said a lot. Last week, quarterback AJ McCarron completed 23-of-28 passes for 319 yards and five touchdowns. It's just a scrimmage, Alabama has some defensive players out with injuries ... whatever disclaimers you want to put on those stats, feel free. Just don't act surprised when Alabama's passing offense (which was already pretty good) takes a huge step this season.

McCarron is a big reason. He was a third-team AP All-American last season and set an Alabama record for touchdown passes in a season. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes and threw just three interceptions. This spring, TideSports.com said McCarron had nine touchdowns and one interception in scrimmages, going against likely the most talented defense he'll see all year. He had a great junior season. And he might be better this season.

A big reason is Amari Cooper. In Alabama's first scrimmage he had three catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. In the second scrimmage he had six catches for 108 yards and four touchdowns.

Can you say breakout superstar?

Cooper is already established as a very good receiver after 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman. But like McCarron, he looks ready to be even better this year. Cooper told the Anniston Star that he has bulked up to 202 pounds and shaved a little bit off his 40-yard dash time. He now runs a 4.34 40, he told the newspaper. He also has a better feel for the offense.

"Everything is easier. When I first came in, I didn’t know a lot of plays," Cooper told the Anniston Star. "Anytime you don’t know something you can’t go full speed when you’re playing a sport. This year, I know pretty much the whole offense and I can play fast. That’s the biggest difference."

OK, so now Cooper can play fast. Yikes.

If that's not enough, AL.com points out the Crimson Tide are getting three injured receivers back this season. Kenny Bell had 431 yards and three touchdowns last year, but broke his leg against Auburn. DeAndrew White scored a touchdown against Michigan but missed most of the season with a knee injury. Chris Black, the No. 8 ranked receiver by Rivals in the 2012 class, played well in the spring game last year but missed last season with a shoulder injury. Black had 10 catches for 113 yards in last week's scrimmage and has been getting rave reviews.

Last year, Alabama was a running team that also threw the ball very well. This year, Alabama's seemingly improved passing game should make the offense a nightmare for opposing defenses. That's one of many reasons the Crimson Tide will be the clear No. 1 in the preseason.

Previously on the "Doc Five"
No. 5, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State undecided at QB
No. 4, The injury bug hits a few teams
No. 3, Irish filling the Manti Te'o void with Grace
No. 2, Johnny Manziel is ready for his encore

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