(Photo: USA Today)
Texas cruised to a 52-10 victory over Louisiana-Monroe to open the 2022 season, and now all eyes have turned to a week 2 matchup against Alabama. The Crimson Tide crushed Utah State 55-0 this past Saturday and now have their sights set on Austin as Nick Saban looks to pick up another victory against a former assistant.
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is the straw that stirs the drink for the Alabama offense. Young tossed 5 touchdowns and ran for another score in the week 1 victory over the Aggies. He is breaking in several new weapons on the outside, including Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton and freshman Kobe Prentice. Burton caught a pair of touchdowns in his Alabama debut.
Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs will lead the Crimson Tide's rushing attack. Gibbs had 9 carries for 93 yards last week and is one of the top draft eligible running backs in the country. He also is a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and caught 36 passes a season ago for the Yellow Jackets.
The Alabama offensive line was not particularly strong a season ago, but Nick Saban hit the transfer portal and hired a new OL coach in an effort to get things back on track. LT Tyler Steen is a transfer from Vanderbilt who has NFL talent. Converted TE Kendall Randolph has settled in at one of the guard positions next to C Darrian Dalcourt, who is in his second season as a started. RT JC Latham is only a sophomore but was one of the top recruits in the 2021 class.
The passing game is what makes Alabama go, and the Texas secondary will have to play at an extremely high level if they hope to pull off the upset.
The best player in college football not named Bryce Young might be edge rusher Will Anderson. Anderson had 17.5 sacks in 2021 to go along with 34.5 tackles for loss. Opposite of Anderson is sophomore Dallas Turner, who registered 8.5 sacks as a true freshman. The biggest mismatch on the field on Saturday will likely be Anderson and Dallas going against the Texas offensive tackles. The interior of the Alabama defensive line is anchored by seniors DJ Dale and Byron Young. Both profile more as run stoppers but have the ability to create push in the pocket.
Henry To'oTo'o and Jaylen Moody are the two primary linebackers. Moody entered the portal this past offseason but ultimately returned to Alabama and led the team in tackles in week 1 with 6.
The Crimson Tide secondary is led by safety Jordan Battle and STAR Brian Branch. Alabama is still figuring out what they want to do at the CB spots, but they have plenty of options. LSU transfer Eli Ricks joins sophomore Kool-Aid McKinstry and redshirt freshman Terrion Arnold.
Alabama is the most complete team in college football. There is not a glaring weakness on their roster and Texas will need to play almost a perfect game to have a chance. While Texas has talented players on their roster and might be able to match up okay at certain positions, the overall talent level for the Crimson Tide is on another level. The Longhorns are 3 touchdown underdogs for a reason.