Revisiting twelve fall camp predictions for the Alabama offense this season:
Cooper is tracking Jones' freshman numbers for receptions and yards and has more than doubled Jones' touchdown total from 2008.
1.] AJ McCarron won’t pass for as many yards as Greg McElroy (2,987) did in 2010, but his team will win more than 10 games. If McCarron goes bowling in Florida this season, it won’t be in Orlando.
How it actually played out: With 2,669 passing yards heading into the BCS Championship Game, McCarron could end up enjoying the best of all worlds. One thing he's thankful for: None of those will include a December trip Disney World.
2.] Amari Cooper won’t eclipse Julio Jones’ UA freshman single-season receptions record of 58 grabs. Some of that will have to do with McCarron having more quality options to go to, something the 2008 passing game didn’t have.
How it actually played out: With 53 grabs on the season, Cooper sits just five away from Jones' freshman total. And, yes, in Christion Jones, Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, McCarron has had more legitimate options to work with than John Parker Wilson had five seasons ago. That hasn't really affected Cooper's involvement, though, because the true freshman has just been that good.
3.] Barrett Jones will become a first-team All-SEC selection at three different positions (guard, tackle and center). He'll also add another Outland Trophy to his resume, joining former Nebraska center Dave Rimington as one of two players to win the award twice. Ironically, Jones is a favorite to win the award named for Rimington, which annually goes to college football's top snapper.
How it actually played out: Two out of three ain't bad, right? Jones pulled the unprecedented trick of first-team all-conference at three different spots and while he wasn't able to repeat as the Outland Trophy winner (he finished second to Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel), he did become the first Alabama player to win the Rimington Trophy.
4.] Alabama won’t have a tight end catch 30 passes this season but Jalston Fowler will help bridge the gap in the passing game.
How it actually played out: Michael Williams has 21 catches heading into the season's final game, so it appears as if he'll fall short of the mark. That might be an issue if the senior wasn't a devastating run blocker, an attribute that more than makes up for his modest receiving numbers. As for Fowler, a knee injury ended his season in week two, so we'll have to wait until 2013 to see how much he can add from a receiving standpoint.
5.] T.J. Yeldon will rush for more yards as a true freshman than Trent Richardson (751) did in 2009.
How it actually played out: With an even 1,000 yards, Yeldon surpassed Richardson's freshman total by mid-November. Looking ahead, he's a good bet to run past Shaun Alexander's UA career rushing mark of 3,565 yards.
6.] He may not begin the season as the long guy, but true freshman Adam Griffith will attempt a field goal at some point during the 2012 season. Three Alabama kickers will see action in 2012.
How it actually played out: Cade Foster held on to his duties as UA's kickoff man and long field goal specialist, while Griffith spent the season redshirting. With Jeremy Shelley's eligibility set to expire after the BCS Championship Game, all eyes will be on Griffith in the spring.
7.] With Cooper, Kevin Norwood, Christion Jones and Kenny Bell at the top of the wide receiver rotation, Alabama’s yards per catch average will improve considerably over what it was a season ago (11.8 ypc). And yards after the catch will have a lot to do with it.
How it actually played out: At 14 yards per catch, the Crimson Tide's average is up by more than two yards over a season ago. Through 13 games, UA has four wide receivers with a minimum of 17 receptions who are averaging 13.1 yards per catch or more. Last season, it had one (Bell at 15 ypc).
8.] McCarron and Norwood won’t torch Tyrann Mathieu.
How it actually played out: Mathieu, on the other hand, kept right on blazing up.
9.] Eddie Lacy won’t rush for 1,500 yards, but the Alabama offense will exceed 2,700 yards on the ground for the third time in four seasons.
How it actually played out: Lacy used a strong second half of the season to put his 13-game total at 1,182 yards. As a unit, the Alabama offense has churned out 2,920 yards on the ground, blowing past the 2,700-yard mark in the second half of the Georgia game.
10.] With Alabama playing with manageable leads most weeks, the second half of Crimson Tide games will take about as much time to complete as a 100-meter final featuring Usain Bolt.
How it actually played out: It pretty much went that way through the first two months of the season but once the calender hit November, Alabama needed every bit of second halves of games against LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia. One of the few exceptions over the final month of the regular season was the Western Carolina game, which took about as long to complete as a head coaching tenure in the SEC these days.
11.] Fowler will line up at fullback against Michigan, which will result in my twitter timeline being filled with Tarrant Lynch comparisons.
How it actually played out: If Fowler's impressive performance against the Wolverines seems like a season ago it's because, well, it pretty much was. If Lacy does indeed declare for the 2013 NFL Draft, Fowler's return from injury will become that much more important.
12.] McCarron will wear a black, non-contact jersey to class.
How it actually played out: While there were injury scares in wins over Missouri and Mississippi State, McCarron has managed to take every meaningful snap of the 2012 season. With the junior set to return for 2013, the question will be, can he do it again?
Also see: 12 Defensive Predictions Revisited