Phil Steele compliments Alabama's 'nasty defense', predicts return to championship contention
By its high standards, Alabama had a disappointing season in 2019.
Not only did the Crimson Tide drop a 46-41 shootout to No. 2 LSU in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9, but they fell 48-45 in their annual Iron Bowl rivalry matchup against No. 15 Auburn on Nov. 30 to see their College Football Playoff hopes disappear.
The Tide would beat No. 14 Michigan 35-16 in the Citrus Bowl, but for a program that is expected to win championships year in and year out, it wasn’t good enough. But things should return to normal in 2020, according to college football guru Phil Steele.
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“I’m going way out on a limb here (to) pick Alabama to win the SEC West,” Steele joked during an interview on ESPNU Radio on Thursday evening. “When you look at Alabama’s defense this year, I look at the linebackers right off the bat…this is going to be a nasty defense.”
Steele mentioned Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon, who sustained injuries that prevented them from playing last year. That meant that Christian Harris and Shane Lee were called into action, with both earning Freshman All-American honors.
“Those freshmen are now sophomores; Moses is back and McMillon is back,” said Steele. “This is going to be a nasty defense.”
Along with high praise for the defense, Steele was complimentary of the offense, made up of what he rated as the No. 1 offensive line, No. 2 running back corps and No. 3 wide receiver group in the country.
“While they do lose Tua (Tagovailoa), they’ve got Mack Jones [and] Bryce Young back,” he said. “Just get the ball to the players and let them play, and they’ll be well-protected this year.”
All in all, Steele feels that the Tide is a sure bet to content for an 18th national title this year, and might also have something to prove.
“They might have a little chip on their shoulder after actually losing 2 games last year,” he said.