TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football fans get their first look at the 2017 team in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Fresno State.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Here are a few fan-submitted questions we wanted to address in our Alabama football mailbag.
What’s the latest on the injury front?
Christian Miller (biceps) and Terrell Lewis (elbow) were both lost for the season. Alabama coach Nick Saban announced Wednesday that Rashaan Evans (groin) and Anfernee Jennings (ankle) would be out against Fresno State.
That leaves Alabama with a lot of question marks. Lewis started at one outside linebacker spot, and Miller was essentially a co-starter behind him. Evans started at inside linebacker. Jennings started at the other outside linebacker spot. Losing four starters in one game is a big blow.
Give us an update on Alabama’s linebacker situation with all the injuries.
This one is a bit of a mystery because of how much Alabama lost. To recap: Alabama lost its top three outside linebackers (Jennings, Lewis and Miller) and a starting inside linebacker (Evans) who could have slid outside in a pinch.
That means Alabama should feature quite a few young and/or inexperienced players over the next couple of weeks, particularly at outside linebacker. Look for names like Jamey Mosley, Mekhi Brown, VanDarius Cowan, Chris Allen and others.
On the inside, Keith Holcombe, Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses should be able to fill in until Evans gets back.
How is Josh Jacobs coming along?
Josh Jacobs practiced some this week, but he is still limited with a hamstring injury. If I had to guess, Jacobs likely won’t play on Saturday. Alabama doesn’t want to rush him back and have him re-aggravate the injury. Give Jacobs another week or so and he should be back on the field for a game.
What’s going on with Ben Davis?
This has been one of the more popular questions among Alabama fans. Ben Davis, a former 5-star linebacker, is currently working with the scout team. That usually indicates that a player isn’t a part of the game plan. Davis, a redshirt freshman, switched from inside to outside linebacker ahead of this season. He also dealt with injuries last season.
At the moment, Davis is behind Jamey Mosley, Mekhi Brown and freshmen Chris Allen and VanDarius Cowan. He would also likely be behind Mack Wilson and freshman Dylan Moses if Alabama decided to work them at outside linebacker.
Some players just develop a little slower than others. Remember, Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster didn’t play serious roles on the defense until their junior seasons.
Alabama played a lot of young wide receivers against Florida State. Will that continue?
Alabama didn’t waste time rotating its receivers against the Seminoles. Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and Cam Sims are the top three, but freshmen Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs all saw their share of reps.
During his news conference Wednesday, Alabama coach Nick Saban said it’ll be important for the Crimson Tide to get more players involved in the passing game:
“I think guys have capabilities, and the only way they’re going to develop confidence is if they have a few more opportunities. We talked before about the technical aspects of the passing game, whether it’s protection, whether it’s presence in the pocket, route running, timing, all these things need to improve. But I think those guys [freshmen] have a tremendous amount of potential. I think if we’re going to have an explosive offense we’re going to have to have other receivers develop, and I certainly like the progress that those guys have made and the maturity that they’ve shown. But I also think they’re a little more capable of being a little more consistent. But I think it would help them a lot if they got a few balls and got some confidence in what they’re doing as well.”
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