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SEC spring practice storylines: Alabama

Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban and Alabama lost to Ohio State in the national semifinals last season.Alabama Crimson Tide (12-2, SEC Champions last season)

2014 Postseason: Lost to Ohio State in College Football Playoff Semifinal (Sugar Bowl)

Final AP Rank: 4th

Returning Starters: 4 offense/7 defense/2 specialists (via Phil Steele)

2015 ESPN FPI Rank: 2nd

Spring Game: April 18

2015 Storylines

Can Lane Kiffin re-tool the offense after mass departures?

Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin will need to replace the 2014 starting quarterback, running back and top three wide receivers, including 2014 SEC Offensive Player of the Year Amari Cooper. For the 2nd straight year, Alabama will be starting a quarterback without any prior FBS starting experience.

Quarterbacks on Alabama Roster

After leading the Crimson Tide to the first ever College Football Playoff, quarterback Blake Sims is off to the NFL, with the Alabama passing and total offense record in hand. But quarterback experience has not been a trend of recent champions. Five of the last six BCS/CFP champions were led by first-year starting quarterbacks. Look for Jake Coker to battle a slew of blue chip recruits for the starting nod at quarterback.

At running back, Derrick Henry figures to get the bulk of the carries this season after splitting time in the backfield for the last two seasons with T.J. Yeldon. Henry actually led Alabama in rushing last year despite receiving 22 fewer carries than Yeldon. 47 percent of Henry's rushes last season gained at least five yards, the highest percentage for any running back in the conference.

Fixing the defense

Alabama's defense struggled down the stretch in 2014. The Tide allowed 630 yards in their Iron Bowl win against Auburn and 537 yards in their season-ending loss to Ohio State.

Offense Missing From Last Season

Those totals are the most and the third-most yards allowed by a Nick Saban-coached Alabama squad.

They'll hope to turn this around in 2015. Alabama needs to replace both its starting safeties from a secondary that ranked first in the SEC in pass defense efficiency a year ago.

Can Alabama win the big one?

Alabama lost to eventual champion Ohio State last year in the semifinal of the College Football Playoff, and the Tide have now lost two straight bowl games. In the last two seasons, Alabama is 0-3 against teams that finished ranked in the final AP Top 10 and 23-1 against everyone else.

Alabama hasn't won a national title in two seasons, which doesn't seem like a long time. But since Nick Saban arrived in 2007, Alabama has never gone three straight years without a title.

Stats & Info SEC spring practice series:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Auburn Tigers

Missouri Tigers

South Carolina Gamecocks

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Arkansas Razorbacks

Tennessee Volunteers

Georgia Bulldogs

Florida Gators