Three things we're watching as Alabama football game week vs Miami arrives

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

The long days of summer speculation are coming to an end this week. 

Alabama football will be back on Saturday when the Crimson Tide faces Miami in Atlanta.

Here's what we're watching as the first game approaches: 

How Bryce Young performs as QB1

There has been no lack of hype or attention around new quarterback Bryce Young. His pedigree and ability seen in early glimpses warrants it. But this week we will finally get an answer as to how Young looks when he's QB1, leading the Alabama offense. 

There are sure to be some issues. It's the first game, and Alabama will have new starters at just about every position on offense. With that in mind, a strong first impression as the starter could go a long way for Young. 

He's got a chance to be a special player. This could serve as the start of that, or it could be a bump in the road.

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Who starts on the offensive line 

Alabama coach Nick Saban made it clear: the right tackle and center spots are open for competition. 

The spots at left tackle (Evan Neal), left guard (Javion Cohen) and right guard (Emil Ekiyor Jr.) are all but set. Who fills the other two roles will be interesting to watch. 

The depth chart that is expected to be released Monday could provide clarity. Or, we might see some "or" starters at those two positions. 

The contenders for the starting spots seem to be Chris Owens and Darrian Dalcourt at center with Kendall Randolph and JC Latham at right tackle. 

Owens filled in at center to close out 2020 as Landon Dickerson missed time with an injury. That experience might make him the favorite, but it doesn't guarantee him the job. 

At right tackle, Randolph's sprained ankle suffered in the first scrimmage complicates things. He had been running with the first group. It's unclear how his injury will affect his availability for the opener, but if he can't go, Latham will probably start. If Randolph is healthy, that complicates the decision and we'll see just how much Latham impressed the coaching staff during Randolph's absence. 

Who plays at defensive back

Josh Jobe is expected to start at one corner spot, and Jordan Battle should be at a safety spot. Otherwise, who plays and where remains somewhat unclear. 

Starting opposite Jobe could be any combination of Marcus Banks, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Terrion Arnold and Khyree Jackson. But Saban said Armour-Davis is a little banged up. We'll be keeping an eye on McKinstry, a five-star freshman. 

At safety, there's some questions, too. Opposite Battle, DeMarcco Hellams had been playing well but sprained his ankle. 

"After he gets out of this boot, he'll probably be weight-bearing, and how fast he comes back after that, we'll have to see," Saban said after the second scrimmage. 

Daniel Wright might get the nod to start depending on Hellams' health.