Nick Saban talks Jalen Hurts, youth at SEC Media DaysBy Matthew Speakman | 07/12/2017 7:16pm
Alabama enters its 2017 season in unfamiliar territory. The Crimson Tide is trying to bounce back from a disappointing end to the season after falling to Clemson in the national championship. For head coach Nick Saban and Alabama, it is about improving on near perfection.
“Whether you win or lose (the national championship), you always self-assess to get better,” said Saban at the 2017 SEC Media Days. “You don't want to waste a failure.”
The Crimson Tide will have to reload this season, losing multiple All-Americans to graduation and the NFL. Luckily for Alabama, it returns players in some very important positions. Quarterback Jalen Hurts, who won SEC Offensive Player of the Year last season, will be back under center. Last season, he passed for 2780 yards.
“Offensively, we have our first returning starter at quarterback since 2013,” Saban said. “Jalen (Hurts) has done a lot this offseason to become a better passer.”
On defense, Alabama loses most of its leadership, but brings back multiple stars, including junior Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick led the team with six interceptions last season and returned two of those for touchdowns.
The Crimson Tide will have to replace a lot, especially on the defensive line and at linebacker. Senior Shaun Dion Hamilton will coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered during the SEC Championship against Florida. Hamilton finished the season last year with 64 tackles and nine tackles for loss.
Fitzpatrick and Hamilton’s leadership will be important on the defensive side.
“This is one of the youngest teams we’ve had since 2012, especially on defense,” Saban said.
Alabama opens up its schedule with a top opponent in Florida State. From there, it doesn't get much easier.
The Crimson Tide will face road games against Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn, as well as tough home games against Tennessee and LSU.
“We’re excited from a football standpoint because of the challenges our season presents, starting with our opening game,” Saban said.