Alabama's journey to make it back to the top of the college football world in 2023 is underway after the Crimson Tide fell short in the race for the SEC West title. That's simply not acceptable for coach Nick Saban and a fanbase that demands excellence every season. Getting back is going to be a big challenge this year, however.
Heisman winning quarterback Bryce Young and EDGE monster Will Anderson Jr. are gone, as are multiple key pieces on both sides of the ball. That's nothing new for Saban, who is accustomed to reloading due to his impeccable recruiting prowess. However, the fact that conference rivals have won three of the last four national championships raises concerns that the era of Crimson Tide dominance has ended -- particularly at the hands of Georgia head coach and Saban protégé Kirby Smart.
The first order of business is to replace Young, but the work extends to multiple position groups on both sides of the ball. Whether it's the secondary, the rushing attack, the wide receiver corps or somewhere else, solidifying a rough draft of the depth chart is imperative as the Tide head into summer workouts.
Let's break down what to expect in the Crimson Tide's spring game.
How to watch 2023 Alabama spring game live
Date: Saturday, April 22 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Live Stream: SEC Network+
2023 Alabama spring game storylines
1. Who's the man at QB? Replacing Young is nearly impossible, but redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe and redshirt freshman Ty Simpson are the top two contenders to step in for the legend. Milroe filled in admirably when Young went out with a shoulder injury in the middle of the season and ended the 2022 campaign with 562 yards of total offense and six touchdowns. Simpson, on the other hand, is primarily a pro-style passer who was the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2021.
"Both quarterbacks played equally well," Saban said after an April scrimmage. "Both of them got opportunities, and both of them, I thought, did a nice job out there managing the game."
Will one of them impress Saban enough to earn "frontrunner status" going into summer workouts? If so, who? If neither take control, Saban will have seven days to find another contender in the portal.
2. Plenty of holes to fill in the secondary: The Crimson Tide lost four studs out of last season's secondary, and first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele's most pressing task is to fill them quickly. Kool-Aid McKinstry is a superstar and will be the unquestioned leader of that unit. Malachi Moore is an ultra-versatile veteran who will likely find a place in the starting lineup -- likely at safety or STAR. Outside of those two established defensive backs, who will step up? There's a good chance that first-year offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will let loose with his passing attack on Saturday to figure out who'll be QB1 going into summer practice, so Steele will get plenty of chances to see who has what it takes to start at the highest level in college football.
3. What will the rushing attack look like? The Crimson Tide finished fourth in the nation in average rushing yards per attempt (5.57) last year ... but 76th in rushing attempts (457). Translation: Former offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien focused more on hitting home runs than pounding the rock. Rees has the benefit of having Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams back in action, and they're the top two options to step in for Jahmyr Gibbs atop the offensive depth chart. Could they share the role, though? Will any other running backs step up. Most importantly, how will Rees implement a more old-school philosophy that Saban is clearly looking for?