Alabama Football: Crimson Tide's 2019 Spring Preview

The Tide need linebacker Dylan Moses to emerge as the anchor on defense

The Alabama Crimson Tide were a juggernaut in 2018 until Nick Saban's squad laid a dud in the College Football Playoff National Championship against Clemson. They'll look to move past that in 2019 and it begins with the A-Day Game on April 13 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban has lured another top-ranked recruiting class to Tuscaloosa, but there are still questions that need to be answered about the newcomers and some veterans.

 

5 Storylines to Watch During Alabama's Spring Practices

 

1. Turnover for the Tide

Nick Saban is breaking in seven new coaches on his coaching staff this spring.  It will be interesting to follow such a high turnover ratio for one offseason. Last year he brought in six new coaches. Saban is the lone coach remaining from Alabama's most recent national title team (2017). Tide fans will recognize two of the names that are part of the changes. Steve Sarkisian is back for a second stint as offensive coordinator after serving in the same role with the Atlanta Falcons the past two seasons. And Sal Sunseri, who was on Saban's staff from 2009-11, returns as linebackers coach. The other new assistants are defensive coordinator Pete Golding, defensive line coach Brian Baker, running backs coach Charles Huff, receivers coach Holmon Wiggins, and safeties coach Charles Kelly.

 

2. Revamping the big nasties

Alabama will enter the spring with a few guys to replace along the offensive line. All-American tackle Jonah Williams and interior offensive linemen Ross Pierschbacher are both no longer on campus. Williams should be a can't-miss NFL draft pick and Pierschbacher was versatile enough to play center and both guard positions over the course of his 57-game career. Jedrick Wills and Alex Leatherwood return, but it will be interesting to see how this unit comes together with a mix of returning starters and young recruits straight from high school.

 

3. Backing the backers

Mack Wilson has departed for the NFL, and while Nick Saban's defense returns Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis on the edge, all eyes will be on junior Dylan Moses. Can Moses emerge as the leader of this unit? His game resembles former standout and current Tennessee Titan Rashaan Evans, so that's a reason to believe if you're an Alabama fan. If Moses can emerge as the Mike linebacker of this unit then all is well in T-Town with what is usually a stacked group of backers.

 

4. Najee the Great?

Just how good can Najee Harris be? We're about to find out. Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris have departed for the NFL and Najee Harris is expected to be the featured back. We know Alabama always has a handful of talented running backs, which will include Brian Robinson this year, but Harris has a chance to be the primary ball carrier for the Crimson Tide. He averaged nearly seven yards per carry last season to total 783 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Assuming he gets enough carries, the rising junior has a chance to post a 1,000-yard season and rank among the top ground gainers in the SEC.

 

5. The added kicker

If there is one thing that drives Alabama fans nuts, it is their kickers. Joseph Bulovas returns as the placekicker but in comes Will Reichard, from nearby Hoover High School, one of the 15 early enrollees that will take part in spring practice. The two are expected to compete for the starting job this spring and it's a competition that will probably carry over into the summer and perhaps into fall camp. Bulovas was 14-of-18 last year on field goal attempts (also missed six PATs out of 81 attempts), while Reichard was the No. 1 kicking recruit in the 2019 class, according to 247Sports' Composite rankings.

 

— Written by Nick Kayal, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network as a college football and NFL writer. Nick is a Morning Show Host in Nashville on 102.5 The Game. Follow him on Twitter @NickKayal.

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