ESPN took the top 17, 2019 national championship contenders and addressed the ‘ifs’ faced by Alabama football and every other team.
Alabama football fans will not be displeased with a recent ESPN take on the 2019 college football season. Bill Connelly wrote a detailed review of the unknowns facing 17 teams. It is a good analysis and worth the full read.
We often criticize ESPN for being only focused on attracting eyeballs. Some of that criticism can be fairly applied to Connelly’s piece. They are theoretically 100+ national championship contenders until the first whistle at the end of the first game. All of us already know there are not 17 teams with a real chance to become national champions.
There may be only two. Perhaps there are 10-12, but that is a real stretch. Just because Caesar’s Sportsbook lists national championship odds for every team does not mean ESPN needs to define the ‘ifs’ for Nebraska, Auburn and Notre Dame. Except for the added eyeballs.
Before diving into the ‘ifs’ of Alabama football and a few other teams, a quick review of the ESPN breakdown. Only two teams are listed as having only two ifs, Alabama and Clemson. The three ‘ifs’ teams are Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU. The biggest group among the 17 teams were the four ‘ifs’ teams; Michigan, Texas, Oregon, Florida, Washington, Notre Dame and Texas A&M.
In the group of ‘why bother to discuss’ were five ‘ifs’ teams, Auburn, Wisconsin and Miami. Bringing up the bottom of the ESPN list was Nebraska, not just listed with just six ‘ifs’ but “six and counting.”
Alabama Football – Two ‘Ifs’
We have no disagreement with the two ‘ifs’ listed. In summary, the Crimson Tide needs a better performance from its secondary and needs more production in the red zone. Connelly’s explanation of the Tide’s red zone problems last season,
Maybe he (Sark) can find a couple of extra-magical playcalls to help out a Tide offense that was ultra-efficient over most of the field (first in overall offensive success rate) but labored near the goal line (68th in success rate inside the opponent’s 10).
Clemson – Two ‘Ifs’
The two Clemson weaknesses mentioned are almost so obvious they need no elaboration. The Tigers must overcome the Championship hangover that limits almost every team. Also, Clemson must almost totally rebuild its defensive line.
Georgia Bulldogs – Three ‘Ifs’
Connelly explains Georgia’s red zone problems last season were greater than Alabama football. He also contends the Georgia defense (he does not mention with less talent) must increase quarterback pressure and not surrender so many yards on the ground.
LSU – ‘Three ‘Ifs’
Two of the three LSU challenges listed are offense issues. They are basically how much better will Joe Burrow be and can the Bengal Tigers rejuvenate a rushing attack. Defensively, Connelly wonders, despite a load of returning defensive depth, can LSU absorb the loss of Greedy Williams.
Alabama football fans, devote some eyeball attention to reading the complete ESPN story linked above. You’ll find the Auburn section particularly interesting.