Alabama heads into Saturday’s game against Louisville in Orlando with a No. 1 national preseason ranking and a lot of questions. Here are four key ones that will be answered in the opener:
1. How will UA handle its quarterback situation?
Since the moment Tua Tagovailoa launched the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime in January in the national title game in Atlanta, the debate has raged. The season has finally arrived, so we’ll get to see whether Tagovailoa starts or if Jalen Hurts takes the first snap. More importantly, how – and how much – each will be utilized will be revealed.
2. Will the secondary be ready?
Alabama lost both of last year’s starting cornerbacks, both safeties and the nickel and dime backs from its roster, with almost all of those players still trying to secure roster spots in the National Football League. There’s little experience but a lot of talent in the defensive backfield, and that unit will be tested by a pass-happy Louisville offense run by Bobby Petrino.
3. What about the special teams?
Punter JK Scott, a four-year weapon, is with the Green Bay Packers and Alabama enters the season with a couple of unproven candidates at placekicker. The Crimson Tide didn’t have a touchdown in the return game last season, so there’s plenty of room for improvement there. New assistant coach Jeff Banks is in charge of special teams and will get to show what kind of impact he has made.
4. Are the Crimson Tide’s new coordinators game-ready?
This will be the first time out for Mike Locksley calling plays for the Alabama offense and Tosh Lupoi running the defense in a live-action situation. There’s been a lot of changeover, with Jeremy Pruitt moving on to Tennessee after running the defense for two seasons and Brian Daboll taking a job with the Buffalo Bills after one year at the offensive helm.