For those of you still counting – and you know who you are – Alabama coach Nick Saban is entering the 2021 season with a showy 23-0 record against his former assistants.
But there is a case to be made that this streak could end on October 9 when Alabama leaves for Texas A&M, coached by Jimbo Fisher.
Fisher, in his fourth season at College Station, has recruited well and finally has the depth that is so crucial to surviving the month of November at the SEC.
Two big questions arise:
1: Can Haynes King be a more dynamic player than Kellen Mond? Mond was a good SEC quarterback who made great plays from time to time. The Aggies need more and King’s athletics, which is projected as a headline on Zach Calzada, could give them.
2 – The offensive line, which was one of the best in the country last season, has to replace four starters. Is there enough talent to do it effectively? I say the answer is yes.
Someone really close to the Aggie show told me this summer, “I wish our backs could run behind last year’s or next year’s line.”
The running game will be fine because Isaiah Spiller is a flat bolt. He ran more than 1,000 yards in his 2020 season.
But keep in mind: the reason the Aggies won 9-1 last season (the only loss to Alabama) and won North Carolina in the Orange Bowl was a defense that led the SEC in allowed gardens per game (317.3). Nine starters and 13 of the first 15 strikers from that defense return.
We’ll all be surprised if the Aggies aren’t 5-0 when Alabama arrives at Kyle Field. Then there are road trips from the SEC to Missouri, Ole Miss and LSU.
So this is the year Saban, the teacher, loses with one of his students? It will be fun to find out.