Ricky’s SEC Conference NCAAF pick for 2017 is the Alabama Crimson Tide.
QB Jalen Hurts completed 63% of his passes while throwing for almost 2,800 yards with a 23-9 TD to INT ratio and also ran for 13 TD’s. This season he will be complimented by one of the best RB groups we have seen in some time. Damien Harris had 1,000+ yards rushing last season and Bo Scarbrough is an absolute beast who could probably rush for 2,500 yards if Roll Tide wanted to feed him the ball without mercy. Josh Jacobs averaged 6.7 yards per carry in a supporting role. The offensive line returns 3 of 5 starters and look to be in great shape despite the loss of LT Cam Robinson. Roll Tide will be without last season’s leader in receiving yards ArDarius Stewart and freak TE OJ Howard but do bring back two-time 2nd Team SEC WR Calvin Ridley and lots of raw talent. It feels certain that Alabama will reach the high-30’s in points per game.
The Roll Tide run defense was crazy-good last season allowing only 64 yards per game at 2.0 yards a carry. Only three teams managed to hold opponents to under 100 yards rushing per contest and #2 (Western Kentucky) allowed 97.2. That should help you understand how great they were in 2016. Oh, and 13.0 points per game allowed was also #1 in the FBS. What can they do for an encore?
Alabama only returns five starters to the stop unit but have had that issue three times in the last five years and things seemed to work out just fine. The front seven only returns two starters but they do feature a promising DL with Da’Ron Payne and several other highly-touted recruits. Their LB group will definitely miss last season’s leading tackler Rueben Foster but it will be fun to see who emerges as a star in 2017. Having said that, if there is a potential question mark on defense, this is the area that comes to mind. The secondary is loaded with talent and experience including 3rd Team AA S Minkah Fitzpatrick.
If Roll Tide has superb unproven talent hiding in the front 7 this D will be lights out. We project a season giving up 16-18 points per game.
There is a bit of uncertainty here as Alabama must break in a new PK and will be without ace PR Eddie Jackson. A sure thing 3rd Team AA punter JK Scott.