It’s been a relatively quiet offseason for the Alabama football team.
There was some buzz about a few players entering the transfer portal and the usual hype that accompanies recruiting. Perhaps the biggest news from the offseason was how quick Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban recuperated from hip replacement surgery – he returned to work less than 48 hours after the procedure.
On Friday the Crimson Tide officially gets back to work for preparation of the 2019 season as fall camps begins. Alabama opens the season Saturday, Aug. 31 against Duke in Atlanta.
Two new coordinators will be leading the Crimson Tide this season. Steve Sarkisian, who was briefly the UA offensive coordinator in 2017, returns in the same roll. Pete Golding, the Crimson Tide’s inside linebackers coach a year ago, takes over as defensive coordinator.
“Steve Sarkisian has lots of experience as a coordinator, college and NFL,” Saban said in July at SEC Media Days. “He’s also got plenty of experience in developing very good quarterbacks, which I think is really, really important in college football and has done a really good job in transition.
“Pete Golding who is the defensive coordinator, he was with us last year, sort of associate coordinator last year, so he’s got a lot of experience and really a fine young coach who reminds me a lot of some of the other young guys that have come up in the organization and had a lot of success.”
Last season Alabama entered fall camp with a competition at starting quarterback. The only competition at quarterback this season is for the backup. Tua Tagovailoa, the Heisman Trophy runner-up and winner of numerous individual postseason honors, is the established starter.
Mac Jones is the leading candidate for the backup job with two newcomers, Paul Tyson and Taulia Tagovailoa (Tua’s brother), also looking for playing time.
The biggest concern with quarterback, however, is keeping Tua Tagovailoa healthy. The junior battled injuries last year and spent the offseason rehabbing after surgery for a high ankle sprain.
“I feel healthier now than when I did when I got to Tuscaloosa,” he said at SEC Media Days. “I feel a lot better health wise.
“The next step for me is getting into the training room and being able to take care of myself. It’s like the analogy of a car, if you don’t get a tune-up for your car it’s not going to work the same way as when you first drove it off the lot.”
There will be competition at running back. Alabama likes to use a bevy of backs and with the departure of Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs, the job will be open for experienced returners Najee Harris and Brian Robinson, as well as a host of others.
The run game, which has been a primary feature of Alabama’s offense, was not in the limelight last season with Tagovailoa’s skills taking center stage. Alabama failed to have a running back rush for 1,000 yards for just the fourth time in the Saban era.
Another big concern entering fall camp is the offensive line. The Crimson Tide lost three starters and there could be some shuffling around for the first week or so of August to figure out where all the pieces fit.