RB Mark Ingram (PHOTO: Alabama media relations)
9-11-10 PENN STATE
9-18-10 at Duke
9-25-10 at Arkansas
10-2-10 FLORIDA
10-9-10 at South Carolina
10-23-10 at Tennessee
11-6-10 at Louisiana State
11-26-10 AUBURN
Coach: Nick Saban
28-8, 3 years

2009 Statistics

2009 RESULTS: 14-0
vs. Virginia Tech WON 34-24
FIU WON 40-14
at Kentucky WON 38-20
at Mississippi WON 22-3
at Mississippi State WON 31-3
at Auburn WON 26-21
vs. Florida WON 32-13
Texas WON 37-21

2009 Final Rankings
AP-1, Coaches-1, BCS-1


2010 Outlook

Top recruiting classes are paying off as Alabama is replacing All-Americans with future All-Americans. One might ask just how Alabama could enter the 2010 season as the nation's No. 1 ranked preseason team with so many holes to fill on the defensive side. Three teams currently exist in all of college football that are worthy of plugging new starters in every year without drop off...USC, Florida and of course the Crimson Tide. So many of these true and redshirt freshmen (on defense and along the offensive line) were five-star athletes coming out of high school. Due to the many departures, this will be an extremely young football team with the exception of those few offensive skill positions.

And those established offensive skill positions are what allow this team to hold on to the No. 1 ranking. Cases can be made that three of the most important positions are manned by potential Heisman Candidates. QB Greg McElroy has the mentality, WR Julio Jones has the athletic ability, and RB Mark Ingram has both since he's already won the award. Alabama will continue to line up and successfully run the ball right at opposing defenses with Richardson and Ingram busting out of the backfield. That is the basic formula, which should provide enough distraction to open the door even more for Jones to finally start putting up those anticipated, lofty receiving numbers. And unlike seasons past, there isn't any distraction from a new offensive coordinator.

While Rolando McClain will be difficult to replace at linebacker, Dont'a Hightower has the potential to step right in and be an immediate impact player. The secondary is the biggest question mark on this team other than special teams. But what they lack in experience, they more than make up for with extreme talent(s). Having a guy like All-American Mark Barron back there also will help ease the transition.

The Tide has a brutal schedule. Not just because they play in the SEC, but six conference opponents have been given a bye the weekend before facing Alabama (an issue for an article on how the SEC continues to put the screws to ole Bama). Feisty Penn State pays a visit, and Florida (Oct. 2) is now more than just an SEC title game opponent in Atlanta. Every foe has to be salivating at the idea of giving Alabama its first regular season loss in three years. Given the youth movement of this defense, winning another national championship - with such a target on their collective chest and a brutal schedule - looks to still be a year or two away.

Projected 2010 record: 11-1

WR Julio Jones (PHOTO: Alabama media relations)
2009 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Greg McElroy, 198-325-4, 2508 yds., 17 TD

Rushing: Mark Ingram, 271 att., 1658 yds., 17 TD

Receiving: Julio Jones, 43 rec., 596 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Mark Ingram, 20 TD, 120 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Jeremy Shelley, 0-1 FG, 1-1 PAT, 1 pt.

Tackles: Mark Barron, 76 tot., 43 solo

Sacks: Marcell Dareus, 6.5 sacks

Interceptions: Mark Barron, 7 for 125 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Terry Grant, 8 ret., 22.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Julio Jones, 5 ret., 15.0 avg., 0 TD


2010 College Football Preview
OFFENSE: Roy Upchurch-RB, Colin Peek-TE, Mike Johnson-OG, Drew Davis-OT, Leigh Tiffin-K
DEFENSE: Lorenzo Washington-DE, Terrence Cody-NT, Brandon Deaderick-DE, Cory Reamer-SLB, Eryk Anders-JACK, Javier Arenas-CB, Marquis Johnson-CB, Justin Woodall-FS, P.J. Fitzgerald-P, Kareem Jackson-CB (NFL), Rolando McClain-MLB (NFL), Robby Green-FS

Despite a perfect record in 2009, Alabama was not really known for its passing attack. However, first year starter Greg McElroy proved he is more than just efficient as a game manager. With only four interceptions, McElroy did his job almost perfectly. The Tide did not really need a QB to win a game in the clutch until the regular season closer against Auburn. McElroy is now a senior and still has not lost a game as a starter since he was in middle school. When it comes to making his reads, knowing the system and feeling comfortable in his drops, the comparison now as to where Greg was last spring is like night and day; he may get some early talk as an outside Heisman contender because, well, 'Bama continues to just win. But he still won't be throwing the ball frequently in this system. The backups are also steady. A.J. McCarron and Star Jackson are in a tight battle with true freshman Phillip Sims. Sims enrolled early to get a jump on grasping this offense.


If one thing is certain, this team is set at running back. Headbanger Mark Ingram is only getting better. As a sophomore, Ingram won Alabama's first ever Heisman trophy while setting the school's single season rushing record. What has to be terrifying for opponents is that backfield partner Trent Richardson can step in and the team won't lose a step, according to head coach Nick Saban and the results seen. Richardson is strong and powerful, too, with a huge burst of speed, and he has improved immensely this spring at both reading defenses and picking up blitzers. Those are the kinds of things that will allow him to "spell success" more next season. The two of them combined for 416 carries, 2,409 yards and 25 touchdowns last fall. Neither is even 21 years old yet, and what is possible for their championship encore could be something really special. Times have gotten so good that some of the media have even started asking if a two-back set may be possible. Not yet, but there may not be a better running tandem in the nation.


The two-year story on Julio Jones thus far has been decent, but nothing stellar. He has All-American skills with very little stats to show for his innate abilities. Expectations coming out of high school were high since Jones was one of the best at his position. Jones needs to work on his case of 'dropsies' as well as avoiding those nagging injuries that have hampered him so far in his career. No question, though, that he is king of this group. The biggest upside may belong to Marquis Maze when measuring his total size, speed and athleticism package. Hopes are that Brandon Gibson can start to become a part of this unit after experimenting with playing defensive back some this spring. Look for upwards of four newcomers to push the envelope as they join the team this summer. This is an area where position changes could be in store if the young ones show they can contribute immediately. At TE, sophomore Mike Williams takes over for Colin Peek who will be tough to replace as a pass catcher. Ex-DE Williams played in all 14 games last year, but primarily as a run blocker. Preston Dial remains the starting H-back ahead of Brad Smelley, and both have the chops to provide much of the production lost with Peek's departure. Converted running back Mike Marrow will provide backup.


While there are a few holes on this line of scrimmage, a viable mix of depth and top-quality youth is plentiful. Don't let the young faces fool you. Redshirt freshmen such as Love and Fluker, who are battling for starting positions, were former five star prep recruits. Some future potential All-Americans are lining up here. Returning sophomore starter Barrett Jones continues to work at right guard, though, at any moment he is talented enough to slide out to tackle where Fluker will hopefully stabilize that right outside position. Center William Vlachos may not be the best lineman of the bunch, but he is the glue that holds this group together as he also makes up a big part of the offensive identity. His ability to pull has been extremely beneficial to the running game. Redshirt frosh Chance Warmack is getting most of the first team reps at left guard and has the making of a future All-SEC guard. Then ,of course, there is returning All-SEC performer James Carpernter at left tackle. The Coffeyville Community College transfer stepped in last fall for All-American Andre Smith and did more than most could ever have imagined. He may not be a dominating run blocker, but his pass protection is exceptional.


OT James Carpenter (PHOTO: Alabama media relations)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Greg McElroy-Sr (6-3, 225) Star Jackson-So (6-3, 209)
A.J. McCarron-RFr (6-4, 190)
RB Mark Ingram-Jr (5-10, 215) Trent Richardson-So (5-11, 220)
HB Preston Dial-Sr (6-3, 237) Brad Smelley-Jr (6-3, 227)
WR Marquis Maze-Jr (5-10, 182) Brandon Gibson-Jr (6-2, 196)
WR Julio Jones-Jr (6-4, 211) Darius Hanks-Sr (6-0, 184)
Earl Alexander-Sr (6-4, 207)
TE Michael Williams-So (6-6, 270) Mike Marrow-RFr (6-2, 235)
OT James Carpenter-Sr (6-5, 300) Tyler Love-So (6-6, 304)
OG Chance Warmack-RFR (6-3, 300) Anthony Steen-RFr (6-3, 292)
C William Vlachos-Jr (6-1, 296) David Ross-Sr (6-3, 302)
OG Barrett Jones-So (6-5, 301) John Michael Boswell-So (6-5, 291)
OT D.J. Fluker-RFr (6-6, 340) Alfred McCullough-Jr (6-2, 309)
K Cade Foster-Fr (6-1, 221) Jeremy Shelley-So (5-10, 165)




Much like other units on the defensive side, the DL goes through a major reloading phase. And the term reloading is a proper description based on the monstrous play Bama is about to get out of DE Marcel Dareus, a brightly burning shooting star. Dareus only had four starts last fall, but over the second half of the team’s title run he became one of the main weapons. Dareus' development forced opponents to change their game plan. His solid play continued this spring and, long story short, he looks like the Tide's best defensive player. Marcel is talented enough to play his way into a Top 5 NFL Draft pick down the road. Attempting to fill the mountainous cleats of Terrence Cody at nose tackle will be Josh Chapman, who is known as Alabama's strongest player (squats close to 700 pounds). He and Kerry Murphy are qualified enough to eclipse the tackle numbers Cody put up, which is bad news for opposing blockers as this entire line will make things (like who to double-team) tough. Luther Davis looks to take over at the other DE spot. Davis was a highly touted prep recruit out of Louisiana who now gets his chance to shine as a senior after playing a reserve role til now.


The best news this off-season has to be the healthy, ahead-of-schedule return of linebacker Dont'a Hightower (tore ACL and MCL late last fall). Cleared for full contact, he has been lining up at Rolando McClain's former middle linebacker spot. McClain (8th overall pick in the '09 NFL Draft) didn't come off the field, and that continues to be the burden placed on the middle linebacker in this defense. Regardless of formation, the MIKE stays out there. Ergo, the prospect of Hightower sliding into McClain's old spot makes sense. But he is versatile enough as an athlete to play any of these linebacker positions at any time. Such a statement has been put to the test too, as musical chairs appears to be the theme with everyone. Who lines up where when the whistle blows is anyone's guess, even the coaches. One day there's four players in distinct spots, and the next day, everything's completely different. Jerrell Harris fits this rotating scheme while adding even more versatility to the mix. He has played everywhere but the JACK pass rush position. A six-game suspension last fall kept Harris out and pushed Nico Johnson into a situational role he will likely make permanent in 2010. Opportunity will knock again for Harris, and he is more than capable physically. Each of the linebackers brings something different to the table. They are all interchangeable which makes this group as good as any Bama has fielded despite the inexperience. Like all other units, young able bodies are everywhere.


Rebuilding the secondary will be the No. 1 priority this spring. Not only are three of four starters gone, but so are most of the nickel and dime backs. Strong safety Mark Barron does return, giving the unit a solid leader and an All-American player around which to build. He is everything to this defense in 2010 and can play either safety spot or one of the nickel/dime roles. Robby Green, expected to start at free safety, has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA for 2010, making the youth movement that much more important. How quickly the young corners develop will be key. Phelon Jones, a former LSU transfer, is the only player with starts to his credit (from 2008). Three former five-star recruits (Kirkpatrick, Scott and Milliner) are in the mix, as is John Fulton. The athletic potential is enormous but understanding these coverages will make for some struggles. Out of all the newbies, Dre Kirkpatrick wasted little time this spring in declaring that he was one of the top contenders in this entire secondary behind Barron. B.J. Scott is the most physical of the CBs and seems a lock the other spot.


DB Mark Barron (PHOTO: Alabama media relations)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Luther Davis-Sr (6-3, 279) Damion Square-So (6-3, 284)
NT Josh Chapman-Jr (6-1, 310) Kerry Murphy-So (6-4, 319)
DE Marcell Dareus-Jr (6-4, 306) Undra Billingsley-So (6-2, 269)
SLB Jerrell Harris-Jr (6-3, 231) Chavis Williams-Sr (6-4, 223)
Jonathan Atchison-RFr (6-2, 228)
MLB Nico Johnson-So (6-3, 238) Tana Patrick-RFr (6-3, 231)
WLB Dont'a Hightower-So (6-4, 260) Chris Jordan-Jr (6-3, 232)
JACK Courtney Upshaw-Jr (6-2, 263) Alex Watkins-Jr (6-3, 232)
Ed Stinson-RFr (6-4, 252)
CB B.J. Scott-So (5-11, 193) Phelon Jones-Jr (5-11, 199)
CB Dre Kirkpatrick-So (6-3, 190) John Fulton-Fr (6-0, 179)
DeMarcus Milliner-Fr (6-1, 182)
SS Mark Barron-Jr (6-2, 210) Wesley Neighbors-Jr (6-1, 210)
Nick Perry-Fr (6-2, 195)
FS Robert Lester-So (6-2, 206) Rod Woodson-So (5-11, 199)
Jarrick Williams-Fr (6-2, 205)
P Jay Williams-Fr (6-4, 220) Sam Buckingham-RFr (5-11, 197)




Alabama loses veterans at place kicker, punter, snapper, holder and all kick returns. Freshman kicker Cade Foster enrolled in January. Foster has power in his leg, and proved such while drilling most of his second half kickoffs out of the back of the end zone in Alabama's A-Day spring game. Freshman punter Jay Williams won't arrive until August; don't be surprised if one of the offensive/defensive players gives punting a shot. There are not many other options. Julio Jones backed up Javier Arenas returning punts lat fall and was effective to some degree in a limited role. One would have to believe he has the upper hand based on his overall quickness and shifty abilities. Powerful RB Trent Richardson could emerge as the leading kickoff returner.