1. Alabama did its best to stomp on Irish hearts and wreck a 12-0 regular season. Looking back now, what was your favorite moment of the 2012 season?
So many great memories, you guys. Looking back knowing how the rest of the season went the opener in Dublin was one of the coolest moments.
An early start with no other distractions, and starting off that new first Saturday of the season. A blowout in an exotic location. Seeing the Golson era begin. Watching the team come out with their power running and an easy win.
There are so many more moments (Te'o vs. Michigan, Pitt come back, Oklahoma win) but it's tough to beat that Stanford game. With hindsight they were obviously our toughest regular season opponent (we beat the No. 6 team in the nation) and they were the last remaining rival that Brian Kelly had yet to beat.
With the way that game ended---tough to beat.
2. The Crimson Tide are losing some key pieces but also returning a bunch of elite players for 2013 and they'll be the consensus No. 1 team to start next season. Can they make it 3 titles in a row and 4 out of 5?
I'll be in Vegas this April and I'm thinking about laying down some dough that Alabama repeats. Winning 4 out of 5 national championships is just so ridiculous and unbelievable but after watching the Tide---and looking at the competition nationally---they have a really good shot to 3-peat.
I already went over this in the comment section of an article here on OFD, but this is Alabama's 2013 schedule.
Va Tech is a good opener but with the way Logan Thomas played this season (and the Hokies as a whole really) and an entire offseason to prepare by Saban, that might not be a close game.
The two toughgest games are A&M and LSU---both with bye weeks beforehand. And as much as Saban will prepare for the opener I'm sure the off-season will be dedicated to stopping Johnny Manziel, who incidentally, is losing some elite talent on the offensive line in front of him.
Heck, LSU is losing about 34 players and their defense is bound to take a huge hit (for their standards). It's also a home game for the Tide.
That leaves: Ole Miss, Miss State, Arkansas, Tennessee, or Auburn. Those teams went 27-35 and 10-30 in the SEC last year.
Ole Miss will be the "it" SEC team next year but the Tide haven't lost to them since 2003 and have won 9 straight in the series. Miss State usually sneaks in to the Top 25 in late September or early October but Dan Mullen hasn't defeated a ranked team in 3 years and is just 1-17 overall against ranked foes.
Tennessee and Arkansas, even if they improve by any great measure, are breaking in brand new totally inexperienced quarterbacks---never good in the SEC and while facing Alabama.
Even Auburn, if they get frisky under Malzahn in year one, will have to deal with Alabama after the Tide face Chattanooga.
Maybe the SEC title game? Florida is losing a ton of players early and is still skittish on offense. Georgia is losing a ton of defenders from an overrated defense. South Carolina won't have Lattimore anymore either.
$1,000 on a Tide repeat?
3. GIF Tournament III is live and even with the seeding 1 through 16 which do you think will be this year's winner?
The Butt Fumble.
Always the Butt Fumble.
4. Your offseason series Reviewing the Redshirts will be coming up soon, so which freshman who retained a year of eligibility do you think will have the biggest impact next season?
Scott Daly will surely see the field a lot as a long snapper. Does that count?
Even if Slaughter is granted a 6th year the defense might be in need of Prosise's length and athleticism. Jones has been getting pretty high praise and should crack the defensive line rotation, and Stanley (who likely preserved a year after an early injury this season) is in line for a lot of minutes in 2013.
I'll go with Stanley who should be healthy for spring ball after elbow surgery. He's got the pedigree, size, athleticism, and the coaches really liked what they saw this year. There's probably a decent chance he's starting at right tackle next year and moves Christian Lombard inside to right guard.
5. A collection of 2013 Irish opponent players have declared early for the NFL Draft so far. Which team has been the hardest hit and which has been the most fortunate?
I'll go with Stanford...for both answers.
A ton of attention will be paid to young up and coming quarterback Kevin Hogan and the offensive line (1 lost starter and a few elite recruits being developed) for good reason---but the Cardinal will need major help around these players.
Their top 5 pass catchers are gone. 6 of their top 7 pass catchers are gone. No receivers outside of junior-to-be Ty Montgomery (a little banged up this year but only a modest 50 receptions, 563 yards, 2 TD in his career) have been developed and that's what happens when you rely almost exclusively on throwing to tight ends for 3+ years.
Running back Stepfan Taylor (4,300 career rushing yards 45 career TD's) is gone and backup Anthony Wilkerson has been pretty average through 3 seasons on the Farm. Redshirt sophomore-to-be Remound Wright (5'9" 205) and redshirt freshman-to-be Barry Sanders, Jr. (5'10" 191) offer a lot of potential but lack the size for Stanford's power running style.
The Cardinal could very well be better on defense but they might take a significant step back from an offense that struggled a lot in 2011---4.18 YPP vs. San Jose State, 3.66 YPP vs. Washington, 4.18 YPP vs. Notre Dame, 4.92 YPP vs. Washington State, 4.92 vs. UCLA.
Hogan may mask some of these deficiencies but it's tough to see an offense improving after losing so much production.