The college football season begins this week, and one thing feels a little bit different before this season that fans aren't very used to. There are question marks around Nick Saban and the Alabama football team. After missing the College Football Playoff last season and losing the top dog status to Georgia football, the Crimson Tide are in an unfamiliar spot entering 2023. However, to make things clear, Alabama is still expected to be one of the best teams in the country. They are ranked #4 in the preseason poll and are in a better spot than 99% of college football teams. The fact that the spot they are in headed into the season is below par speaks to the incredible job Saban has done with the program.

ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum, who specifically covers SEC football, recently joined McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning and discussed many SEC story lines, including Alabama football's current situation. Finebaum believes that the defense is going to be the key this season.

“They can probably get away with it offensively as long as one thing is true and that’s if the defense is elite,” Paul Finebaum said on the show. “If they can shore up what were some deficiencies last year, then I think they can survive.”

Defense will be huge for the Crimson Tide this season, and Finebaum believes that the team's ultimate concern boils down to defense as well.

“The ultimate concern though is if the defense is not like some of those defenses that your partner was often bailed out by,” Finebaum said. “I don’t know how they will handle certain teams, Texas, Ole Miss, LSU, teams that can score a lot of points. I think that’s the one unknown.”

Nick Saban and Alabama get the season going on September 2nd when Middle Tennessee State football comes to town. The first big test for the Crimson Tide that will answer some questions will be the very next week when Texas football comes to Tuscaloosa.