The 2022 season was a disappointment for Alabama (for their standards), as they missed the College Football Playoff for the second time since its inception and failed to win the SEC West for the first time since 2019. The 2023 season represents a chance for redemption for Nick Saban’s team, and with key departures and changes in the coaching staff, this spring will be crucial to set the foundation for a potential “revenge tour.”
Offseason coaching changes have been significant, with both offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and defensive coordinator Pete Golding leaving the program. Their replacements, Tommy Rees and Kevin Steele, are expected to reinvigorate the team on both sides of the ball.
Tommy Rees, a former Notre Dame quarterback and assistant coach, showed his adaptability last season when he shifted the Fighting Irish’s offensive focus to the run game after their starting quarterback’s season-ending injury. This adjustment resulted in Notre Dame ranking 21st in the country in rushing attempts per game, a stark contrast to Alabama’s 82nd ranking. Saban’s decision to bring in Rees could signal a desire to return to a run-focused attack.
On the defensive side, Kevin Steele returns to Tuscaloosa for his third stint with the program. His familiarity with the team and experience at Miami and Auburn will be invaluable as he looks to reestablish Alabama’s defensive prowess.
The spring will also see intense competition for starting positions. With 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young moving on, the battle for the starting quarterback role will be a key storyline. The primary candidates are dual-threat Jalen Milroe and former five-star redshirt freshman Ty Simpson. Saban’s decision may reveal just how committed he is to a run-focused approach.
Ty Simpson, a former star at Westview High School in Tennessee, was the 29th overall prospect in the Class of 2022. Although his game time was limited last season, Saban clearly had high expectations for the young quarterback. Possessing pro-style attributes and enough mobility to challenge defenses, Simpson could emerge as the winner of this highly anticipated competition.
Linebacker Dallas Turner will also be under the spotlight, stepping up as Will Anderson Jr. leaves for the NFL. The junior linebacker demonstrated his potential last season, tying for second on the team in sacks and third in tackles for loss. The 6-foot-4, 242-pound former five-star prospect will need to prove he can perform without Anderson drawing attention from opposing teams.
At running back, Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams are vying for the top spot. McClellan’s 111 carries last season suggest he can handle the responsibilities of a more run-based attack. Although the two could operate as a tandem, insiders will be watching closely to see how McClellan is utilized during spring practices.
This spring is a crucial period for Saban, perhaps his most important since hiring Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator in 2014. The shift in philosophy has created intrigue around the future of the Crimson Tide. With talent available at every position, Saban will be busy evaluating his options and making necessary adjustments.
The transfer portal could also play a significant role in shaping Alabama’s depth chart heading into the summer. Following the A-Day game on April 22, the second transfer portal opens on May 1. If Saban identifies gaps in the roster, the portal offers an opportunity to address those issues through college football’s version of free agency.
As Alabama sets its sights on the 2023 season, the spring will be a pivotal time for the team to lay the groundwork for their “revenge tour.” With key changes in coaching staff and intense competition for starting positions, the Crimson Tide are poised to make a strong statement in the upcoming season.
In addition to the quarterback, linebacker, and running back battles, other position groups will also be closely monitored during spring practices. The offensive and defensive lines, secondary, and special teams units will all need to step up and prove their worth to make Alabama a contender once again.
Wide receiver is another area where the Crimson Tide will look to reload, as they aim to replace key departures to the NFL. Young talents will have the opportunity to make a name for themselves and contribute to Alabama’s potent offense.
As spring practices progress, it will be crucial for the team to develop chemistry and cohesion under the new coaching staff. Rees and Steele will need to quickly establish their systems and expectations, ensuring that the players buy into their philosophies and work together effectively.
Strength and conditioning will also play a significant role in preparing the team for the challenges ahead. Ensuring that the players are in peak physical condition and injury-free will be vital to Alabama’s success in the 2023 season.
Finally, the mental aspect of the game cannot be overlooked. After the disappointment of the 2022 season, the team must be mentally resilient and focused on their goals for the upcoming campaign. Saban’s leadership and experience will be crucial in instilling a winning mindset and fostering a culture of relentless pursuit of excellence.
As the Crimson Tide embark on their quest for redemption, the importance of a successful spring cannot be overstated. With key changes in coaching staff, intense competition for starting roles, and the potential impact of the transfer portal, the foundation laid during this crucial period will be instrumental in determining Alabama’s fate in the 2023 season. The college football world should brace itself for a motivated and determined Alabama team, eager to reclaim their position at the pinnacle of the sport.