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2023 Alabama Football Predictions and Season Preview

After a 10-2 regular season Alabama closed its season with a bowl victory over Kansas State. Looking ahead to this season, sportsbooks seem to expect a similar outcome. FanDuel Sportsbook currently gives Alabama a 10.5-win total juiced to -184 on the under. With that said, let’s dive into Alabama football predictions, futures, roster overview and more.

Alabama Football Predictions, Season Preview & More

Like many years in the Alabama program, head coach Nick Saban had to replace both coordinators this offseason. On offense, he brought in former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. On defense, Kevin Steele will take over coordinator duties after serving the same role on the Miami staff in 2022. Notre Dame ranked 16th in total offense under Rees last year. Miami ranked 14th on defense, which makes these solid enough hires on paper.

Alabama Offense

For the first time in over five years, Alabama has serious questions at quarterback. Bryce Young departs as the number one overall pick, leaving Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson on the roster. Milroe had to play a little last year when Young got hurt. He completed 31 of 53 passes (58.5%) for 297 yards (5.6 yards per attempt), five touchdowns and three interceptions. He possesses dynamic mobility with 263 yards on 31 attempts (8.5 yards per attempt).

Simpson has no experience whatsoever, but he came in as a 5-star prospect and fourth quarterback recruit in that cycle. Despite the recruiting pedigree on Milroe and Simpson, it appears Saban was not happy enough with their performances this spring. To add further competition, Alabama went out and snagged former Notre Dame signal caller Tyler Buchner from the transfer portal.

The former 4-star barely played last year, but he completed 55.4% of his passes for 651 yards (7.8 yards per attempt), three touchdowns and five interceptions. He only committed three turnover-worthy plays (per PFF), so some of that was not his fault. He can also run a little bit, averaging 5.6 yards per carry on 82 career carries. Most importantly, he unites with his former offensive coordinator in Tommy Rees, adding familiarity with the new offensive system. This could be the weakest quarterback room going back a few seasons.

As usual, Alabama has a deep running back room, even with Jahmyr Gibbs heading to the NFL. Their incumbent backs include Jase McClelland and Roydell Williams. McClelland is 5-foot-11, 212 pounds and rushed 111 times for 651 yards last year. He also caught 14 passes for another 174 yards. He was the SEC’s 19th graded rusher, averaging 3.50 yards after contact and a missed tackle on 27.9% of his attempts.

Williams is 5-foot-10, 212 pounds and rushed 55 times for 253 yards. He also caught five passes for another 37 yards. He was the SEC’s 24th graded rusher averaging 2.87 yards after contact and a missed tackle on 23.6% of his attempts. Last year, they recruited 4-star and fourth overall running back Jamarion Miller. He is 5-foot-10, 201 pounds. They also recruited 5-star Justice Haynes, who ranks as the second overall running back in this class. He is already on campus and drawing rave reviews. With quarterback issues, Alabama may opt to lean more on the run game.

The receiver position never really gelled for Alabama last year, but they return some quality production. Their leading receiver and former Georgia transfer, Jermaine Burton returns. Burton is 6-foot-0, 200 pounds and caught 40 passes for 677 yards last year. He played in the slot 39.3% of the time and his 2.03 yards per route ranked 21st in the SEC. Ja’Corey Brooks also returns after catching 39 passes for 674 yards and eight touchdowns. He is 6-foot-2, 196 pounds with a 30.5% slot rate. His 2.29 yards per route ranked 12th in the SEC last year.

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Kobe Prentice also finds himself back in the fold. Prentice is 5-foot-10, 171 pounds. He caught 31 passes for 337 yards and a pair of touchdowns last year. He played in the slot 76.6% of the time and his 1.99 yards per route ranked 23rd in the SEC. Isaiah Bond and Kendrick Law both took on larger roles down the stretch too. Both were recruited highly in the 2022 class and took a little time to develop. Bond is 5-foot-11, 175 pounds. He caught 17 passes for 220 yards with 1.17 yards per route. Law is 5-foot-11, 193 pounds and caught eight passes for 103 yards as a freshman.

Emmanuel Henderson moved from running back to receiver last year and could be in the mix. They also landed the top JUCO receiver in the class in Malik Benson, who could play immediately, not to mention a number of other 4- and 5-star players at the position. An extra year of experience should help most of these names, but losing Bryce Young will hurt.

At tight end, Alabama lost Cameron Latu to the NFL. The team did get 187 snaps from Robbie Ouzts last year, who returns. He is 6-foot-4, 258 pounds and spent 66.8% of those snaps blocking, where he was decent. There is a decent chance that Alabama leans on Maryland transfer C.J. Dippre in this spot. Dippre is 6-foot-5, 260 pounds and caught 30 passes for 311 yards with Maryland last year. His 1.74 yards per route ranked 24th in the Big Ten. That occurred while blocking on 60.9% of his 501 snaps as well. Alabama has plenty of highly recruited depth like Amari Niblack and Miles Kitselman on the team as well.

Alabama lost Tyler Steen and Emil Ekiyor to the NFL, along with Javion Cohen to the transfer portal. They return stud J.C. Latham, who played 875 snaps at right tackle last year. He could play right or left, according to those close to the team. The favorite for the other starting position is Elijah Pritchett after he played in two games at left tackle as a true freshman. That only amounted to 13 snaps, but he still saw the field. His primary competition will likely be true freshman Kadyn Proctor. Proctor was a 5-star recruit in this cycle, the top overall lineman and ninth overall player.

The center position will be held down by returning starter Seth McLaughlin. He played 619 snaps last year for the Tide. Tyler Booker also returns after 429 snaps at guard last year. He played slightly more at left guard, but he rotated across the line. The other starter should be Darrian Dalcourt, who only played in six games before injury. He mostly played center but rotated a bit himself. Dalcourt or McLaughlin can both play guard/center, giving this unit flexibility. This unit has more experience than expected, due to past injuries. With the line and running back position coming in as strengths, expect a little more running from Alabama this year.

Editor Note: Looking for more college football futures?

Alabama Defense

On defense, Alabama ranked sixth in 2022. This included the 4th-ranked run defense, 12th-ranked pass rush and seventh-ranked pass coverage. Unfortunately, the Crimson Tide lost most of their secondary and a few starters in the front seven. Alabama only brought in one transfer on defense, but with 10 incoming 4- and 5-stars, Alabama has the luxury of leaning on quality depth.

Despite losing third overall pick Will Anderson on the edge, Alabama returns plenty of production here. Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell played 648 and 329 snaps last year and should start for 2023. The interior is a little less experienced, but Jaheim Oatis and Justin Eboigbe project to start. Oatis played 323 snaps last year and is 6-foot-5, 370 pounds. Eboigbe only played in four games due to injury, but he played 117 snaps in that span. Tim Smith and Jamil Burroughs have some experience as well, which should allow Alabama to rotate quite a bit.

At linebacker, Henry To’oTo’o left for the NFL, but Deontae Lawson returned 439 snaps at the position. Alabama also landed the top JUCO linebacker in the country in Justin Jefferson. This position is not as deep as the others on defense, but the starters should provide quality snaps.

In the secondary, Alabama lost Brian Branch, DeMarcco Hellams, Jordan Battle and Eli Ricks. They do return starting corner Kool-Aid McKinstry, who played 872 snaps just 37 catches on 80 targets last year with 16 pass breakups and one interception. The other corners should be Terrion Arnold and Malachi Moore. The pair played 549 snaps and 381 snaps, giving the corner position more returning production than first glance would indicate. They also added Louisiana transfer Trey Amos. He was a two-year starter at corner for Louisiana and allowed just 20 catches on 53 targets into his coverage last year. Safety looks a little weaker with Kristian Story and true freshman Caleb Downs potentially starting. Downs is an incoming 5-star prospect and the sixth highest recruit in the entire class. The coaching staff has compared him to Minkah Fitzpatrick, which is insane to hear regarding a true freshman. Story doesn’t have much experience, but Alabama possesses enough talent and depth to mix up the secondary, if needed. This should be one of the stronger units on the team.

Alabama Schedule

Alabama plays one of the most difficult schedules in the country this year. Their non-conference features Middle Tennessee, Texas, South Florida and Chattanooga. Luckily, Alabama draws Texas at home, but this makes the Crimson Tide’s non-conference tougher than most. From the SEC East, Alabama drew Tennessee at home and Kentucky on the road. Most consider Tennessee the second-best team from the East, which again hardens the Alabama schedule. From their own division, Alabama travels to Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Auburn.

Even with the tough schedule Alabama would be favored in every game to start the year. That could change quickly if Alabama cannot figure out quarterback. This makes the Crimson Tide slightly more volatile than previous years. Bookmakers are optimistic. The Crimson Tide have a 10.5-win total, +200 odds to win the SEC and +600 odds to win the National Championship. Like a lot of the elite teams, the juice is not worth the squeeze in these betting markets. Over 10.5 wins at +148 looks intriguing, but that leaves little margin for error. If the line moves a little more towards the under, a sprinkle on the Alabama over could be warranted. However, it is a stay-away for now.

You can read the rest of Matt Gajewski’s 2023 college football season previews and predictions below!

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