When you have a team as talented as Alabama did in 2016, there’s going to be some amount of turnover regarding top-end talent.
And while Alabama has done this at different positions before — running back, quarterback, defensive back — SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears noted that there is some concern about how Alabama will replace its defensive production up front.
“They know they have a longer way to go with their interior line defensively. They haven’t had a problem there in the last five years,” Spears said on the Paul Finebaum Show.
From last season’s team, the Crimson Tide lost Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson, Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams. Throw in linebacker Reuben Foster and the Crimson Tide lost 36.5 of their 54 sacks.
“There’s a difference between having players who can play and having game-changers. And they lost three,” Spears said.
“When you lose Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson and Jonathan Allen all in the same year and you look at the production from the year previous, you gotta say, ‘Where do you account for that?’ ”
Spears did bring up that Alabama does have some special talents in Da’Ron Payne and Da’Shawn Hand. But those two combined for just 3.5 sacks last season, so the Crimson Tide will need to see big boosts from those two.
And it doesn’t help that the Crimson Tide open the season against a potent Florida State team. The Crimson Tide and Seminoles are ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in the first coaches poll. They face off on Sept. 2 in Atlanta.