2003 SEC Football Preview: Alabama

2003 SEC Football Preview: Alabama

Between now and August 30, VandyMania will take a look at all 12 SEC teams. In the first edition of our 2003 SEC Football Preview our staff looks at the Alabama Crimson Tide, coached by Mike Shula, and makes a fearless prediction on the outcome of the Tide's 12 scheduled games.

COACHING

Head Coach: Mike Shula (Career rec: First year)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Rader
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Kines

2002 Record: 10-3 overall (6-2 SEC)

2002 NCAA STATS RANKINGS

Total Offense: 30th (403.46)
Rushing Offense: 18th (213.23)
Passing Offense: 77th (190.23)
Scoring Offense: 52nd (28.23)
Total Defense:3rd (257.31)
Rushing Defense: 4th (80.15)
Pass Efficiency Defense: 16th (101.31)
Scoring Defense: 5th (15.38)

Alabama coach Mike Shula returns to Alabama after a 15-year absense. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

STARTERS RETURNING

Offense (7):

QT Wesley Britt (6-8, 312, Jr.)
QG Justin Smiley (6-4, 301, Jr.)
ST Evan Mathis (6-5, 294, Jr.)
*TB Shaud Williams (5-9, 189, Sr)
*WR Triandos Luke (6-0, 188, Sr)
WR Antonio Carter (5-9, 190, Sr)
PK Kyle Robinson (5-10, 175, Sr)

Defense (7):

DE N. McKay-Loescher (6-4,255,Sr)
*DE Antwan Odom (6-5, 273, Jr)
SLB Cornelius Wortham (6-1, 233, Sr.)
ROV Brooks Daniels (6-2, 205, Sr.)
CB Charlie Peprah (5-11,195,So)
FS Charles Jones (6-0, 183, Sr)
SN Nick Ridings (6-0, 246, Sr)

* All-Star Candidates

Roster

TEAM STRENGTHS

Quarterback, linebacker.

TEAM QUESTION MARKS

Defensive line, wide reciever.

KEY GAME

August 30th, South Florida. This game is critical because it will give us a quick barometer check of how the off season coaching turmoil will affect the 2003 team.

HEAD COACHES COMMENTS

Still an honor to be here and still a lot of fun. Like to say how much I appreciate the patience and understanding everyone has shown me in the early days of my tenure at Alabama. Been a whirlwind to hire a staff, get playbooks together. In the 15 years since I've been gone things have changed quite a bit at the Capstone. Each day as I drive into work I see on-going construction. The crown jewel of the project is a new academic facility. Other top projects are a new weight room, new locker room and new training facility."

"I have received incredible support from the administration and everyone on campus. I was familiar with several of our defensive coaches. We had three openings on offense, wanted to bring some guys I knew would compliment those already here and bring some consistency. Can use this to our advantage. Will have more meeting time, which is something we'll need and use."

"Been amazed and awed at the resiliency of this football team, all they've been through, accepted me and this staff from the beginning. Any player of the senior class could have transferred without losing eligibility, none did, speaks volumes about Alabama football and what it means to play for the Crimson Tide. These seniors will play a vital role in our success this year. Stuck with it, paid the price and will lay the cornerstone for future Alabama teams." "People have asked how good can we be? On paper, I think we'll be pretty solid. Many players who won 10 games a year ago will return as seniors. A lot will depend on how mesh returning players with players who don't have much experience."

"Our punting and placekicking duties are up in the air but feel will have viable candidates on campus. Everybody has been asking what kind of offense we'll run. What we'll do is take some of what was being done in the spring, add some variances, by adding a few things that coach Radar, coach Woods and myself will bring."

"Offensively, we need to set a rotation at receiver position, firm up depth on OL, Brodie Croyle will be QB, has strong arm, moves around very well, look forward to working with him, seeing him develop at QB. Spencer Pennington can do some things too. Brandon Avalos has very strong arm. Shaud Williams, Ray Hudson, Kenneth Darby will provide us with very good depth at running back position. Need for all these guys to step up (OL) and play to potential because at that position, we don't have a lot of depth. Our kickers, Bryan Bostick and Carl Robertson are good kickers although not very consistent last year. Defense players are good but backups will lack experience. Inside we've got some returning redshirt freshmen (DL). Our linebackers should be our strongest position with returning seniors, Brooks Daniels, Cornelius Wortham."

"Our punting situation we've got to find out who will be our starting punter and none have any college playing experience."

"As an alumnus you feel for your school. All things that have happened last few months, tore at you. Those were guys I thought about first, how I would have handled it if that happened to me. We have chance to do something, to surround ourselves with good people and win with class."

VandyMania Projection

The Tide will go through some growing pains in 2003 with a new staff that didn't even get to run the spring practice. 6-6 overall, 2-6 SEC.

2003 SCHEDULE AND PREDICTIONS

Aug. 30 South Florida, W 27-20
Sept. 6 Oklahoma, L 28-7
Sept. 13 Kentucky, W 27-24
Sept. 20 Northern Illinois, W 17-14
Sept. 27 Arkansas, L 27-20
Oct. 4 at Georgia, L 24-14
Oct. 11 Southern Mississippi, W 23-21
Oct. 18 at Ole Miss, L 24-17
Oct. 25 Tennessee, L 28-20
Nov. 8 at Mississippi State, W 17-14
Nov. 15 Louisiana State, L 28-23
Nov. 22 at Auburn, L 23-10
Nov. 29 at Hawaii, W 35-30

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