On the plus side, this team is better than last season when it lost all six of its games by seven points or fewer. On the negative side, Bama also won four games by six points or fewer including a battle against Houston. Veteran teams win the closer games, and this one, while talented, has gotten younger.
The bar is set higher in the SEC. Urban Meyer won a national title early on at Florida. Les Miles needed just a few years to win a championship at LSU. Saban doesn't have the horses that those two had, at least he doesn't have the veterans like those two enjoyed, but he does have a good enough team be in the thick of the SEC West title hunt. It's time to start paying off.
Yes, I take special interest in Bama. I can't help it. I live in Tuscaloosa. Bama football is local news. Pete Fiutak is one of my favorite football writers. I happen to think he's a very intelligent and reasonable person.
The start of SEC Previews will come later this week, but I'll give you a little preview of the preview now. I really question whether Bama will be any better this year than they were last year. Of course, one of the themes of outsidethesidelines' writings over at the Bama site has been that Bama wasn't that bad last year, but that it didn't show up in the record.
I'm skeptical about whether that is true, but one thing I can't help thinking, and I'm in no way trying to be a "haha! Bama stinks!" guy, is that this is a team that despite not having a player drafted, lost a number of key players at key positions. Most importantly, it seems to have lost its only good pass rusher, almost all of its experienced linebackers, and most of its productive wide receivers.
Yes, they're still Bama, which means there is a Boston Celtics-like mystique there, but this is a team with a LOT of roster holes right now. Holes they anticipate filling with true freshmen, which has a lot of people trembling, but those people aren't opposing players. They're Bama fans and coaches. Not to say those guys won't be very good players eventually, but any team that plans to rely heavily on true freshmen at key positions is a team that needs to be prepared for some hard times.
Personally, I think Ole Miss looks like a better team right now. Ole Miss has good line play on both sides of the ball, a QB who could actually be able to play and isn't expected to come straight from junior college and start without even any practice time (unlike Brent Schaeffer), and playmaking wide receivers.
The season is long, and lots of things get said. What I'm saying now may look foolish in a couple months. We'll see.
Edit: Please read poll to say "2008" instead of "2009".