2018 Alabama football projections on the Hour Glass
By John Luke McCord
If you watched Alabama’s thrilling final-play win over Georgia in the College Football Playoff final back in January, well, then you already know the major storyline for the Crimson Tide this offseason. Who will be Nick Saban’s starting quarterback this fall? Jalen Hurts, the rising junior who led the Tide to the title game, or Tua Tagovailoa, the freshman who won it with three touchdown tosses in the second half (including the game winner)? The duo combine for an Hour Glass stamp of 20.8, which ranks second in the SEC behind Drew Lock. Tagovailoa, one could argue, could bring the Tide even closer to Lock’s output with a full season of snaps.
The defending champs are loaded with even more talent at receiver. In fact, the offensive unit has a chance next season to be as great as some of Saban’s defenses have been over the years. Returning pass catchers Devonta Smith and Henry Ruggs were on the receiving end of two of Tagovailoa’s TD passes in the title win. But its Jerry Jeudy that is expected to follow in the footsteps of Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley as the next great Tide receiver. Speaking of continued greatness, Alabama has two more running backs with a long future in football in Damien Harris and Najee Harris. That duo could easily dominate opponents this season when new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley looks to control the clock against opponents. On the offensive line the Tide will also be loaded, and there’s another great one in Alex Leatherwood rising in the group, as well.
Surprisingly, the defensive side of the ball is where most of the questions arise. First, Jeremy Pruitt is now the head coach at Tennessee and Tosh Lupoi is the defensive coordinator. Secondly, plenty of high impact guys are gone in Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Harrison and Daron Payne just to name a few. While those kind of players are hard to replace, Alabama does it frequently and will be expected to do it again this year. After all, their 3-year HourGlass talent stamp is 95.38, which is narrowly behind Georgia as the SEC’s best number in that category.
So let’s look at some of the names that are set to shine this season defensively. Up front the best returning player is arguably Raekwon Davis, who could very well end up one of the more feared Tide d-linemen since Terrence “Mt.” Cody. Then there’s also Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams, Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis, among others, up front. At linebacker Ben Davis, Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses are as good as any other trio of backers in the nation. Don’t count out veteran special teams ace Keith Holcombe as a contributor at linebacker either. The secondary could have the biggest adjustment to make, as more young guys will have to step up. Deionte Thompson and Trevon Diggs bring back experience, while Saivion Smith is a talented pickup from the JUCO ranks, but youngsters Shyheim Carter, Nigel Knott and others will have to emerge.
Most importantly here is the fact that Nick Saban has an Hour Glass coaching stamp of 45, which is six points ahead of Dabo Swinney (39), who comes in at second in the nation. The closest SEC coach in that category is Kirby Smart (13). The average coaching stamp is 4. Saban is sure to make the difference for the Tide as long as he’s roaming the sidelines.
HG analytics pick: 13-0, SEC Champion (over UGA) and #1 seed in CFP
My pick: 13-0, SEC Champion
Last Year’s Analytics Pick 13-0; Actual Record 12-1 (92 percent accuracy)
2018 Alabama Analytics –
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 3rd – Inside our Realistic College Football National Champion Line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Nick Saban on HG Scale: 1st (Nick Saban Stamp at 45) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Alabama quarterback play rated 10th in the country out of 130 teams. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3. Alabama has a stamp of 20.8.