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Q: Although junior quarterback Jay Barker is 17-0 as a starter and led the Crimson Tide to its sixth national championship last season, many 'Bama fans doubt his competence. When the team he quarterbacked lost the spring game to one led by sophomore Brian Burgdorf, those doubts were renewed. Should Barker be the Tide's No. 1 quarterback?
A: Until he loses, he should. Last year Alabama averaged only 27.7 points and 362.8 yards a game. In fact, this season it may be the offense that sweeps the Tide back to New Orleans on New Year's Day. The line returns virtually intact, and Chris Anderson, the team's leading rusher as a freshman three years ago, should be more than adequate at tailback. Flanker David Palmer will again be a threat to break away anytime he has the ball.
Q: Even with six starters returning on defense, can any defense survive the loss of first-round draft picks John Copeland, Eric Curry and George Teague?
A: Copeland, Curry and Teague are irreplaceable. Period. However, senior cornerback Antonio Langham and senior linebacker Lemanski Hall form the heart of a defense that may be almost as overwhelming as last year's. Besides, it's not as if 'Bama has to improve very much to win. As in '92, the Tide's schedule has national champion written all over it. In addition to not having to face Georgia or Florida (at least not until the SEC title game in Birmingham), Alabama plays only three teams that made it to bowls last season.
Q: Coach Bill McCartney, who last season junked his I-bone offense in favor of a passing attack, was only half pleased with the result. And with good reason, The passing part was fine, but the Buffaloes averaged only 2.7 yards per carry on the ground. Can Colorado rediscover a balanced offense?
A: Yes. The Buffaloes have 10 starters back on offense, including Kordell Stewart, who passed for a school-record 2,109 yards last season despite missing two games because of injuries. And the running game is bound to improve; it's almost all the team worked on this spring.
Q: How will Colorado replace five All-Big Eight performers on defense?
A: In part with another good quarterback. The Buffaloes' best defensive player, outside linebacker Ron Woolfork, was a quarterback when he came to Boulder in 1989. Last season he had 13½ sacks, tops in the Big Eight. He alone can't replace five star players, but he sure can read offenses and get inside the mind of the opposing QB.