Well, 2007 has come and gone, leaving Alabama with a 6-6 record. With that, it seems like an appropriate time to bring the Crimson and White Roundtable back to life, which died an unceremonious death sometime during the start of the season. After all, we do need to pontificate.
Sometimes, dead is better…. except for the CW Roundtable
This time, I invite other Alabama bloggers out there to join in and post their responses to the questions on their own blogs. Yes, we’re messing with the format a little bit. It’ll be easier for everybody else in the long run to just provide links to the others and post your own answers. Please just use the following 10 questions:
1. What surprised you the most about this football team? Good or bad.
I was very happy with the defensive performance this season. During the pre-season predictions, many of the experts out there were expecting the defense to suffer greatly, with the offense having to pick up the slack. But, with the coaching of Saban and Steele, it ended up being the defense who had to save the offense at times.
2. Who must shape up or ship out by next season?
I’ve heard people blame players like D.J. Hall and Jimmy Johns. I don’t know if they are two of the supposed “cancers” on this team, but there are players who must buy into the new coaching staff. I tend to believe that the defense has bought into Saban for the most part, but there are still a few on the offense that have yet to decide what they want to do.
3. Do you expect any assistant coaching changes?
Hey, it is always possible. It either comes down to firing coaches, or watching them take jobs elsewhere. Applewhite has been mentione for SMU, even though the offense did nothing these last 3 games. Joe Pendry could be fired (or leave, I have no clue), leaving an opening for the O-line. Pay attention to Rush Propst, although I think hiring him would be a dumb move that Saban should be too smart for. I don’t expect any changes on defense.
4. What bowl game should Alabama go to, if one at all?
Well, the Independence Bowl has expressed interest, so that will be my default pick. But, don’t be shocked of Alabama ends up in Nashville or Memphis playing a bowl game.
5. It seems that underclassmen are playing more and more these days.
How much playing time should we expect from Saban’s first two
I would expect to see plenty of freshmen and sophomores playing in 2008. The defense will be young, but talented, so expect that to be an interesting unit. I think the offense will have a few as well if Alabama can land Julio Jones.
6. What did Saban do well this season? Where was he lacking?
Again, the defense was great this season when you compare it to what expectations were. I don’t know what happened with this offense, but he and Applewhite both need to address some things they may have tried to work around. Personally, I think Saban did try to ignore some of the internal issues in order to keep the fans happy for the short-term. Alabama fans have been pretty understanding about where the program is after this season, and we are willing to wait for Saban’s recruits to come in and get his program going full steam. But, as the Head Coach, you have to do what it takes to make people realize that they have to work together, through one system, in order to win. I think this lead to a victory for ULM.
7. Who is someone that we didn’t expect much from this season who
really showed up big for the Tide?
How about Mr. Leigh Tiffin. The guy hit a handful of field goals that range from 40-50 yards this season. How many of us were expecting this after he got pushed into the fire early against Arkansas last season? He certainly exceeded expectations.
Rolando McClain would be another overachiever. We expected him to play, but we didn’t expect him to become the anchor for this defense. But, he took over the starting job from Prince Hall, and was able to become an instant hit for Alabama fans.
8. What young player are you glad is staying and think will really
make big contributions over the next few seasons?
Again, I have to mention Rolando McClain. He will be a stud for the next few seasons. I’m also looking forward to watching Kareem Jackson develop. He went on an interception spree towards the end of the season, which looks promising for the future.
9. Which senior are you saddest to lose, for whatever reason?
Wallace Gilberry and Darren Mustin obviously. These guys went to work everyday, and proved to be the two best leaders on this team. Mustin proved his worth against Arkansas, keepin the Hogs from running the ball as well as games past. But, once he got hurt, the Hogs were able to run wild on our defense. Gilberry was the sack leader and one of the best representatives Alabama has had in a long, long time. He was always great for a comment, and was able to lead this defense to good success.
10. Give your absurdly premature prediction of the Tide’s regular
season record for next year.
I’m going to say 8-4 next season just to play it safe. I think Alabama will finally be able to beat Auburn in 2008, who will have a rookie QB and possibly a new D-Coordinator if Muschamp is offered the Ole Miss job (although Auburn will be tested early with a horribly tough opening schedule). I doubt you’ll see us drop a game against a non-BCS team next season after the bomb went off with ULM. Still, don’t ignore Northern Illinois, who we play November 1st between Tennessee and MSU (yikes, November again!!!).
We can get at least one SEC road win somehow; maybe Arkansas, but I would need to see who is coming back to the Hill. Actual revenge against Mississippi State should happen with the Dawgs coming to Tuscaloosa with a bad offense and solid defense (that D will be losing a few players though). Kentucky loses a majority of their offensive leaders, which will hurt them. Ole Miss will be rebuilding for the 5th consecutive year, although we can’t seem to blow them out anymore.