1. So tell us, how much of campus has Lane Kiffin burned down so far? Kidding, but he's been a big part of what's been deemed "pushing the reset button" for Alabama. How's Kiffin, and that mindset, affected spring practice?
Wow, you came out with guns blazin'. Needless to say, Kiffin's reputation made his hire somewhat polarizing among the fanbase. Those who are more hopeful look back at the Leinart/Bush/White offense under him and the development of Jonathan Crompton during his one season in Knoxville.
Unsurprisingly, Saban and the players have sung his praises. As far as the "reset button," I think you will see more two-back looks and better use of OJ Howard. There has also been some mention of picking up the pace a bit, though they are careful to specify that Alabama isn't going to be a HUNH team. Expect a power running game and plenty of screens and shallow crosses designed to take advantage of all the weapons outside. The offense was highly productive under Nussmeier but had critical red zone failures in the losses to Texas A&M and Auburn the past two seasons. It will be very interesting to see if Kiffin is able to improve in this area.
2. Quarterback has been a big subplot to Alabama's spring, but with Jacob Coker allegedly the anointed savior, was it all academic?
The company line says that the QB competition is wide open going into the fall. I think the best way to sum it up is that we all hope Coker is as good as advertised because most of us don't have a lot of confidence in the other options. I will be very surprised and disappointed if Coker doesn't win the job.
3. Derrick Henry's gotten a ton of pub since his big game in the Sugar Bowl, but T.J. Yeldon did rush for 1,200 yards last season. Is he really going to lose his job?
No, TJ isn't going to lose his job. Whether he starts every game remains to be seen, but Saban has stuck with his veterans for the most part. I do expect there to be a committee approach though, with Henry getting plenty of opportunities. He and Fowler together in the backfield could be devastating in short yardage and when it's time to drain the clock in the fourth quarter.
4. Just a handful of returning starters on defense for the Tide, who are the new guys opposing fans should get used to?
The linebackers are probably the most intriguing group, with former five-stars Reuben Foster and Reggie Ragland along with Dillon Lee stepping into the limelight. D.J. Pettway is back after a year in juco purgatory and looks to be an impact player. Def. end Dalvin Tomlinson was looking great in camp last season before injuring his knee in practice after logging four tackles in the season opener. Freshman cornerback Tony Brown made quite the impression in the spring and looks primed for a prominent role.
5. One thing that I think LSU and Bama have in common, is that despite years of good recruiting and some veteran talent returning, both squads are counting on a lot of new faces and incoming freshmen to come in and contribute quickly. What does that say to you?
Scholarship limits (insert snarky oversigning comment here) combined with more juniors declaring since the implementation of the rookie wage scale have made it virtually impossible to keep a full cupboard at every position. Alabama suffered mightily in the secondary last season and, to a lesser degree, the offensive line. Obviously LSU struggled in the linebacker corps and lived through the growing pains of some very talented freshmen in the secondary. The game in Red Stick should be another great one, perhaps hinging on which QB -- Jacob Coker or Brandon Harris (yeah, I'm calling it) -- is further along at that point. In any case, these next few years are setting up some epic battles between these two. Who wouldn't want to see Leonard Fournette and Reuben Foster collide at full speed? Can't wait for kickoff.