TideSports College Football Preview

Returning starters: Isaiah Buggs, Raekwon Davis
Starter lost: Da’ron Payne


Davis and Buggs will be the anchors of the year’s line. That’s not a debate topic; it’s a fact. Both were solid last year and look likely to complete their transition into bona fide high-round NFL draft picks. Davis also continues to be the No. 1 player in America at scaring opponents simply by getting off the bus at his current 6-foot-7, 300-pound dimensions. The challenge will be replacing Payne’s dominance, as well as the contributions of De’Shawn Hand and Josh Frazier. Sophomore Quinnen Williams has earned praise from Nick Saban since spring practice and will probably be the third man in a strong starting unit. Sophomore LaBryan Ray showed flashes of promise as a 2017 freshman and needs to continue with the upward trend. The rest of the unit will be made up of players with little experience (Johnny Dwight, Phildarian Mathis) or incoming recruits.


The trend for the Alabama defense over the past few years has been away from the Terrence Cody-sized space eaters in the middle, but that doesn’t mean junior college transfer Tevita Musika, who comes in at approximately 350 pounds, couldn’t find a place in short-yardage situations. The other newcomers, Christian Barmore —- making the transition from Philadelphia city football to the SEC — and Stephon Wynn, appear to need more seasoning (Wynn has also been injured, slowing his progress) but necessity may require their presence.


Tevita Musika is the cousin of Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft choice Tevita (Vita) Vea, the former Washington Husky. To distinguish between the two, their extended Tongan family refers to Vea as “Tall Vita” and Musika as “Wide Vita.”


Buggs and Davis give Alabama a firm foundation but must stay healthy. Through the 2016 season, Alabama’s dominance up front was based on playing wave after wave of big, fast linemen. Last year, it was less a numbers game than it was the sheer physical power of Payne, Davis and Buggs. This year will have to be similar.


Alabama’s defense gave up just 2.72 yards per carry and 94.71 rushing yards per game to lead the nation in rushing defense. Only four schools allowed fewer than three yards per carry.


“I’m gonna do everything they said I couldn’t do”
– Raekwon Davis, via Twitter.

TideSports College Football Preview