Despite coming off an incredibly dominant national championship winning season in 2020-21, the Alabama Crimson Tide have slid down to the No. 2 position in ESPN's preseason rankings. While last year's 13-0 squad was virtually unstoppable, this year's squad may be a bit more vulnerable.
ESPN SEC football analyst Paul Finebaum explained these vulnerabilities on his show Wednesday -- noting a significant change at the quarterback position.
"I'll tell you why you're vulnerable — because even though I think the defense is going to be fantastic, I am not sure the offense is going to look anything like it did last year and I don't know why you think it will,” Finebaum said. "I think Bill O'Brien's (OC) fantastic, but it's his first year and Saban gone from Jalen Hurts to (Tua) Tagovailoa to Mac Jones — who nobody really saw coming — and I don't know what Bryce Young's credentials are. He's never done it when it really matters.
"And do I think he can do it? Yeah. Do I think he can do it and win 12 games? I'm not so sure about that."
With the No. 1 ranked 2021 recruiting class in the nation (including seven five-stars and 16 four-stars), roster turnover shouldn't be an issue heading into next season. But, as the game evolves, more and more importance has been placed on the quarterback position.
If sophomore QB Bryce Young isn't able to live up to the hype, the Crimson Tide could suffer some uncharacteristic struggles in 2021.
Fortunately for Nick Saban and the Bama program, Young's potential is through the roof. Coming into Tuscaloosa as the No. 2 overall and No. 1 quarterback in the 2020 class (per 247Sports composite rankings), the five-star QB certainly has the capacity to live up to the line of great quarterbacks before him.
Playing the whole season behind star QB Mac Jones in 2020, Young logged just 156 yards and one touchdown through his freshman season. During this year's Alabama spring game, we got a better look at the young quarterback as he earned the game's MVP trophy -- recording 333 yards and one touchdown on 25/44 passing.
While many analysts are jumping to dub Young the next great Bama QB, Finebaum elected to pump the brakes.
"I'm just trying to be realistic," Finebaum said. "I think Alabama — if you gave me the Vegas odds, do I think Alabama is going to be undefeated or will lose a game? I would probably take 'lose a game.' I think the dangerous games are (Texas) A&M — Miami might be a little scary, until they get going in the second half, but A&M is to me a dangerous game. I think A&M and Georgia are the two games I'd be most concerned about."
With Young as QB1, the Crimson Tide will kickoff their 2021 season with a marquee matchup against the Miami Hurricanes.