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Alabama panel: Kent State week

Which freshman will contribute most for the Tide this season?

Jimmy McCrory: Dee Hart would have been my answer, but with his ACL injury, I would have to say Cyrus Kouandjio has the physical tools to play as a freshman on the O-line as the left tackle. The untimely death of Aaron Douglas has made this a wide open battle.

Jay Reynolds: Freshman – Cyrus Kouandjio is fighting for a starting spot at left tackle.  If he wins this spot now or even mid season he will be the most significant freshman offensive lineman since Andre Smith.  This will free up Barrett Jones to move back to his natural position at guard.  I would take DeAndrew White as my second choice due to depth at receiver. Red Shirt Freshman – Phillip Sims will be sharing snaps with sophomore AJ McCarron for at least the first game. He could very easily earn or share this position.

Roger Hoggle: A month ago I would have said Dee Hart, but with his injury, I would have to now say Cyrus Kouandjio on the offensive line. If he can learn the schemes up front and is as quick and strong as advertised, he will be a force up front.

What will it take to make Trent Richardson a Heisman finalist?

Jimmy McCrory: Trent is a powerful, tremendous back with a strong work ethic. His Heisman hopes will be solidified by his play on the field. Alabama is poised to make another run for the national championship, which well help his chances also. His ability to perform in the big game will push his Heisman chances to the forefront.

Jay Reynolds: Trent’s Heisman hopes are very bright. However, most pre-season hopefuls are judged with a microscope.  The late sleepers tend to be able to win with less glamorous numbers.  The Tide will have to give Richardson at least 65% of all the carries and “feed” him the ball near the end zone.  Staying healthy is just important and as we all know this is not easy for a “feature“ back in the SEC.

Roger Hoggle: This will be tough for Trent to accomplish. He will be very successful behind our experienced offensive line, but I think we are going to see our QB, no matter who the starter ends up being, stretch the field vertically so we won’t be relying on Trent as heavily as we would without the threat of the deep ball.

Who will be tougher to replace:  Dareus, Jones or Ingram?

Jimmy McCrory: Julio Jones because last year he usually had two people covering him, this freed up other receivers. He was Alabama’s go-to and most physical receiver. His blocking skills will also be missed.

Jay Reynolds: Julio Jones’ third down reception numbers were unbelievable.  Julio was known to drop at least one easy pass a game, but was as dependable on third downs as the sun rising in the east. With only one full time starter, Marquis Maze, returning in the receiving core (Hanks started some in 3-receiver sets) it will be tough to find that “sure thing” on third downs.

Roger Hoggle: Julio. With the experience and talent we have coming back on defense and Trent stepping in to fill Mark’s shoes, Julio will be missed the most. Not only will we miss his big-play ability, but his blocking on the edges and down the field. He also drew the attention of the safety, opening up the other receivers to make plays. Without him, we may see more zone coverage this year as last year he forced the defense to cover the other receivers one-on-one.

Where might the Tide struggle?

Jimmy McCrory: The transition of the quarterback into the starting role seems be a concern for this year’s team. Coach Saban will rotate the quarterbacks until there is a clear cut decision for the better of the team.

Jay Reynolds: If Alabama struggles this year it will come in an area that most Alabama fans are used to, Offensive production. The Tide offense lost a Heisman back, first round receiver, first round left tackle, and 2 year starting quarterback. These holes are not easy to fill. The offense has 2 new quarterbacks, only one established threat at receiver, and either a true freshman or repositioned guard at left tackle. As Coach Saban has been harping on since he came to Tuscaloosa, the offense will have to have more explosive plays this year.

Roger Hoggle: My fear is that we will struggle a bit to run the ball when Trent is out of the game or late in a game if he doesn’t get rest early. With the injury to Dee Hart, and the transfers from the running back position, our back-ups for Trent are good backs but I don’t think they have the explosive speed he has and we may have a tough time gaining positive yards in chunks like we can with Trent carrying the ball.

Who would you give most of the snaps to this season: Phillip Sims or A.J. McCarron?

Jimmy McCrory: The quarterback is and has been a dead heat for months. I would let it play out on the field. The two are equal in physical skills, the presence in the huddle and maturity on the field will be key as to who secures the position for 2011.

Jay Reynolds:    Both QB’s are have a similar style of play. I would start the season off with McCarron, due to “experience”, but would definitely play a two QB system in the first game. From practice reports Simms seems to be making more big plays. Without being there everyday it is hard to speculate on who the starter should be. I wouldn’t be surprised if we played both for the first 3 games and possibly all season long. Also don’t forget about Blake Sims who seems to be winning respect from the coaching staff. I expect to see him in “special situations” like the Wildcat and maybe a spread offense set.

Roger Hoggle: I would say AJ should come out of the first two games as the starter simply because he has more experience in this system and has some game experience. However, if reports are true about Sims arm strength, accuracy, and leadership skills, I won’t be surprised if he gets the majority of the snaps.