Regular Season Review: Alabama

As Alabama prepares for the BCS National Championship,'s Kirk McNair reviews the Crimson Tide's 2012 regular season and looks to the future.

1. With the regular season over, has Alabama met or failed expectations?

Although it is always a disappointment when Alabama has a blemish on its record, the loss to Texas A&M notwithstanding, the Crimson Tide has met the expectations of regular season play by winning the Southeastern Conference championship and advancing to the BCS National Championship Game as the nation's number two team. Bama (12-1) will meet number one Notre Dame (12-0) for the national title in Miami Gardens on Jan. 7.

2. What one player has made the difference this season?

As is the case with any team, the player who almost always makes a difference, for good or for bad, is the quarterback (regardless of the "quarterback gets too much blame and too much credit" axiom). Therefore, one would have to say that junior quarterback A.J. McCarron has made the difference for Alabama. McCarron is hardly a surprise as he was the starter in Bama's 2011 national championship season and was Offensive MVP in the BCS National Championship Game victory.

A case could be made for freshman back-up tailback T.J. Yeldon, who rushed for 1,000 yards and helped shore up a position where two back-up tailbacks were injured in pre-season; freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper, who set Crimson Tide freshman receiving records and helped at a position where Bama suffered several critical injuries; junior cornerback Dee Milliner, who has been excellent in an Alabama secondary that lost three starters from 2011.

3. What are the key improvements that need to be made before the BCS National Championship?

Alabama has not had a dominant pass rusher in 2012, and it is unlikely that one will emerge in the BCS National Championship Game, but this will continue to be a point of emphasis for Coach Nick Saban's defense. The consensus in the Alabama camp is that 6-6, 248-pound outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard will develop into a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

4. What has been the dominant headline of the regular season?

The dominant headline is the one proclaiming the most anticipated BCS National Championship Game in history, the top two names in college football, Notre Dame and Alabama.

5. If the recruiting class stays in-tact, what are your expectations for next season?

It appears that Alabama is headed for one of the nation's top recruiting classes again in 2013, and that has been situation normal under Nick Saban in his six years as Crimson Tide head football coach. Although there may be some defections from the class before Signing Day, there will be adequate replacements. And, in any event, the Bama cupboard is well-stocked and expectations for next season will be for Alabama to have a championship caliber team.

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