TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Could it be? Are we really going to have a 2020 college football season?
We don't know yet. But regardless, Alabama is poised to open fall camp on Monday, two-plus weeks later than originally scheduled.
Considering the Crimson Tide wasn't able to hold a single practice in the spring before everything shut down, the players and coaches are more than itching to get back on the field.
Alabama is coming off a "disappointing" 11-2 season during which it missed the College Football Playoff for the first time. Re-establishing its dominance is the primary goal of the 2020 team, only will it get the chance?
Here are five things to keep an eye on during fall camp:
1] The coronavirus concern
Just being exposed to someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus could lead to players being shut down for two weeks, or with an outbreak the whole team being quarantined. The concern isn't just with the players, the coaches and numerous staff workers surrounding the team are numerous. Alabama is rigorously testing, but no one knows how successful the team can be keeping everyone free of the virus, especially after students fully return to campus.
2] Coaching continuity
This is one of those things that won't tangibly noticed, but in a stark contrast to the previous few years Alabama will have only one new assistant coach in 2020, former Crimson Tide player Freddie Roach handling the defensive line. With Nick Saban stressing coaching continuity, as he's had to replace as many as seven assistants during a recent offseason, Steve Sarkisian received a raise to $2.5 million per year after numerous schools (including Colorado) showed strong interest in hiring him. Pete Golding is back at defensive coordinator ($1.225 million), along with Jeff Banks on special teams ($725,000).
3] Strength and performance
With a new sports science center under construction, Alabama suddenly needed someone to run it along with a new strength and conditioning coach. Dr. Matt Rhea and David Ballou may have been the prefect fit as the director of sports science and director of sports performance. After all the knee injuries the Crimson Tide recently experienced, fans and reporters will be closely watching.
4] Having a veteran presence at interior linebacker
We're not going to list all the injuries the defensive front seven experienced last year again, however having veterans at the interior linebacker sports again should be huge. It was at about this time last year that Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon were both lost for the season with knee injuries, leaving freshmen Shane Lee and Christian Harris to fend for themselves. Now it's like Alabama has four returning starters in the heart of the defense.
5] Mac Jones
It wouldn't be easy for anyone to try and follow Tua Tagovailoa as the Alabama starting quarterback, but Mac Jones got an early start on doing just that late last season. Having a little time to settle into the role for the Citrus Bowl against Michigan he was 16-of-25 for 327 yards and three touchdowns, with scoring plays of 85, 42 and 20 yards. For the season he was 97-of-141, totaling 1,503 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.
This is the first in a five-part series of things to look for during Alabama's 2020 fall camp.