I'm just one fan but with three games down and Alabama 3 wins against non-conference teams I don't know that one of the most critical questions of the off season has been answered. The question as to if Jalen Hurts can establish a winning passing game using the long ball. He seems to do great on over the middle passes and there is no question about his running abilities but sooner or later a defense is going to come up, sell out, and stop the run. Alabama needs to have that long ball threat of Ridley or one of the other receivers striking from over 30 yards or more.
Another question that I think will linger a while, although it may have been answered, is will Alabama be able to achieve a pass rushing, quarterback sacking defense like it had last year with Johnathan Allen, Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams that had opposing teams dreading to face Alabama each week and Quarterbacks wondering if they were going to be around to play the next week. So far that answer seems to be that Alabama hasn't found an equal bunch and is going to have to rely much more on the secondary and linebackers picking things up. If that is the case then Alabama might be alright in the secondary but with two linebackers out and two questionable due to injuries Alabama might be venerable to big plays and there is no doubts that Colorado State lit up the defense a few times even though they lost.
Each week Saban, no doubt, emphasizes continuous improvement in all areas but improvement often takes time and experience. With Vanderbilt's stout defense this year and great Offensive performance Vandy could possibly be a team to watch for a surprise. I don't expect that Alabama will fall this coming week but I also am not as confident as I have been in the past that the defense can stop other teams from scoring like the past two years defenses have done.
In years past an opposing quarterback had maybe 3 seconds in which to find an open receiver or one with an advantage over a defender and then he could depend that an Alabama defensive lineman or rusher's hands would be on him. This year's defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks far more time but again sometimes it just takes experience and sometimes even the lesser known teams do have great players. Special Teams play also seems to continue to be a strong point for Alabama so all together I think the Offense is a little stronger than last year, the defense just a little weaker but with LSU and Auburn appearing to be much weaker than expected Alabama may have the time to sort through many of it's issues. The problem is of the next 5 upcoming games I believe that Vanderbilt very well may be the most likely to upset the Tide but Saban does a great job at getting the best out of the players and keeping them focused and thus Vandy has to be even more focused and perfect. Their performance against Kansas State was impressive but so was Alabama's win over Florida State. I think Bama will win but I think it will be more of a fight and a challenge, even more than Florida State.