21 for 21: Which opposing players could cause Alabama problems next year?
Alabama will look to repeat as national champions this year as it aims to add a 19th title to its trophy case. The Crimson Tide opens its season on Sept. 4 against Miami inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. To help pass the time until then, BamaInsider is delving into 21 topics and questions concerning the 2021 season.
Today, we continue our series by looking at which players could cause Alabama problems this year.
Alabama is already listed as strong favorites in each of its big matchups next season. However, that doesn’t mean the Tide won’t be tested. Here’s a look at five opposing players who could cause trouble for Alabama this year.
D’Eriq King, QB, Miami
2020 stats: 11 games; 211 of 329 (64.1 percent); 2,686 passing yards; 23 passing TDs; 5 INTs; 152.74 RTG; 538 rushing yards; 4.14 yards per carry; 4 rushing TDs
Last time out against Alabama: None
Why he can hurt the Tide: Alabama has made a habit of facing its season-opening opponents the year after they lose a star quarterback. The Tide blew out Louisville in 2018, the season after the Cardinals lost Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to the draft. The following year, Alabama blew past a Duke side who had recently lost first-round pick Daniel Jones. This year figures to be different as Miami quarterback D’Eriq King is set to be healthy in time for the season opener against Alabama.
King suffered a torn ACL during the Cheez-It Bowl against Oklahoma State on Dec. 29 of last year. However, Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee stated last month that his starting quarterback should be 100 percent by the time the Hurricanes take on the Tide on Sept. 4.
If King is able to play, he’d represent a good first test for what figures to be an improved Alabama defense. The former Houston transfer has the dual-threat qualities that have caused the Tide problems in the past, and may be able to exploit a secondary that will be playing in its first game without All-American cornerback Patrick Surtain II.