TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama football returns to Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday as the Crimson Tide are set to host the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at 6:30 p.m.

For the first time in recent years, there are questions about how good this Bama team can truly be. The Crimson Tide begin the season ranked number four in the country, it’s lowest ranking to begin a season since 2009 and lost valuable pieces on both sides of the ball to the NFL Draft, most noticeably Will Anderson Jr. and Bryce Young.

The Tide also added new offensive and defensive coordinators as Bill O’Brien returned to the NFL to be the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots and former defensive coordinator Pete Golding joined Ole Miss in the same position. Tommy Rees comes to the Capstone as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after being at his alma mater Notre Dame from 2017-2022. Kevin Steele, a familiar face, returned to Bama for the third time and will serve as defensive coordinator for the second time under Nick Saban.

Alabama will have experience and youth in certain positions this season, and the young players will have to learn quickly as Texas comes to Tuscaloosa in Week 2 with experienced quarterback Quinn Ewers.

Here’s what to look for in the season opener:

Who is going to start at quarterback?

  • The question all offseason has been, who is going to be the guy to replace Young? Bama went and added Tyler Buchner from the transfer portal and it’s been looking like a three-man competition ever since. Jalen Milroe, who started in the Texas A&M game when Young was injured has reportedly been taking majority of the first-team reps during scrimmages. Expect Milroe, Ty Simpson and Buchner to all get a chance Saturday. Saban has said the competition will continue even after the first game.

Old-school Alabama offense

  • It’s highly expected that no matter who starts at quarterback, this Bama offense will be physical and heavy on the run. Offensive lineman JC Latham said in March that every time the ball is lined up, he wants opponents to be scared. Tyler Booker said that the team is developing a mindset of running the football and being dominant in the trenches. After losing Jahmyr Gibbs to the 2023 NFL Draft, Bama is still loaded in the backfield, returning Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams and adding five-star freshman Justice Haynes.

“Joyless Murderball” defense

  • During SEC Media Days in Nashville, Dallas Turner said that he expects the Alabama defense to return to the standard in 2023-2024. “The expectations, Joyless Murderball, pre-season, of course. There’s a lot of guys on the defense that can run around, fly around, make good plays,” said Turner.

Betting Lines

  • Point spread: Alabama (-39.5)
  • Over-under: 51.5
  • Money-line: N/A