Saturdays on Yea!106.5, KiX 96.3 and AU100, Noah Gardner and Jeremy Law debate Alabama and Auburn sports on “On the Line”, a RadioAlabama Sports podcast airing at 10 a.m. Hailing from Auburn University and the University of Alabama, Gardner and Law discuss all sports from the Capstone to the Plains. The two decided to give reasons why the other’s alma mater will not win the 2020 SEC Championship. Noah Gardner gives five reasons why Alabama will fail to win the SEC title.
In all honesty, my cohost, Jeremy Law, has an easier task producing reasons why Auburn won’t win the SEC Championship. Across the board, Alabama is considered the favorite to win the SEC, but if the Crimson Tide are not lifting the conference championship trophy at season’s end, here are five potential obstacles that prevented them.
1. Mac Jones
In four full games, Mac Jones had impressive stats, but in watching the quarterback, one can pick out tendencies in his game that may be problematic in 2020. At times, he stared down his receivers, and he possesses average arm strength. Furthermore, the offense was bland with him at quarterback. With multiple playmakers from the supporting cast taking off for the NFL, Jones won’t have the help he had last year. If teams can make the Alabama offense one-dimensional, Jones won’t be able to beat teams with his arm alone.
2. Inexperienced defensive backfield
With Trevon Diggs, Xavier McKinney and Shyheim Carter headed to the NFL, Alabama’s defensive backfield is less experienced. Only one player with significant starting time returns in Patrick Surtain II. Surtain II is one of the best cornerbacks in the country, but teams with dynamic receiving corps will find ways to throw the football away from him. Of course, incoming recruits and underclassmen stepping up can be just as effective as the previous year’s unit, but inexperience also has the ability to hurt the Crimson Tide pass defense as well.
3. Pete Golding
In his first season as defensive coordinator, Pete Golding dealt with several injuries, damaging the first and second levels of the defense. Nonetheless, you expect a defense to improve from the beginning to the end of a season, and we did not see that with the 2019 Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide gave up the most points per game in a season since 2007, and in the two most important games of the season, both of which happened in the last four weeks of the regular season, Alabama gave up 46 points to LSU and 48 points to Auburn. With Georgia on the schedule this year as well, Alabama can’t afford to slip up on that side of the football.
4. Special teams
Insert a joke about Alabama’s special teams unit here. It cost the Crimson Tide an SEC championship in 2013, and it contributed to their loss in the 2019 Iron Bowl. The return game is excellent with Jaylen Waddle receiving kickoffs and punts, but missing field goals and extra points is the bad habit that Alabama can’t kick.
5. More competition in the SEC
Nationally, Alabama doesn’t appear to be as dominant as they were in the early 2010s. Powers such as Clemson and Ohio State have closed the gap, but the SEC has generated more competition for the Crimson Tide. LSU won the SEC last year, albeit with a once in a generation team, but other schools in the league have adapted. Georgia is recruiting on the same level as Alabama, and Tennessee is rising in the ranks as well. Gus Malzahn is 3-4 against Nick Saban. It’s taken a decade, but teams have found ways to compete in various levels against Alabama. Small victories eventually have the potential to turn the tide.