Alabama football: Crimson Tide’s offense is a mystery, and not because of the coach
Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
Since Lane Kiffin’s early departure was announced, thoughts and theories about what changes Alabama might make have abounded. With a mystery coach to most Alabama fans taking the helm, everybody wants to know what to expect under Steve Sarkisian.
Under Kiffin, that was a hard enough task. A year ago, nobody had pegged long-ignored tight end O.J. Howard to be the hero of the championship game. Before that, Jake Coker wasn’t meant to be running the read-option and creating first downs with his legs. All the attention had gone to Derrick Henry, but Alabama flipped the script as December turned to January.
This year, we’ve seen evidence of that hidden versatility, both in what Alabama has done, and what it hasn’t. Going into the Peach Bowl, Alabama’s offense was thought to be powered exclusively by side-to-side motion and the most talented quarterback it’s had in years. In Atlanta, Kiffin shifted that plan. The much-reviled jet sweep vanished, and Alabama ran the ball straight at the Huskies–as much as Kiffin’s inner self will allow, any way.
What’s more, Alabama won its semifinal on the back of who had been its third-choice running back for most of the season: Lifetime movie-loving human battering ram Bo Scarbrough. Scarbrough was the most-hyped player at Alabama in several seasons–even more so than Henry — but had hardly featured in 2016, partially due to injuries, partially because of game plan. Against Washington, he dominated, as Roll Bama Roll’s film study shows.
Alabama has three running backs with unique skill sets, three top-class receivers with different styles, at least two of the best lineman in the nation, and a true dual-threat quarterback. It has the talent to do whatever it wants on offense, schematically speaking. Until Monday night, there’s no way to know what that is.
- Alex Martin Smith of SEC Country has some advice for Sark: Get the ball to Calvin Ridley.
- The best thing I read yesterday: Kevin Scarbinsky’s column marking Nick Saban’s tenth anniversary at Alabama, including some illuminating quotes about Bear Bryant and Saban’s longevity at the Capstone.
- For more nostalgia, Roll Bama Roll has some thoughts on Saban’s introductory press conference. I totally forgot Joe Pendry was assistant head coach at the time.
- There’s also this slideshow and video retrospective of Saban’s career.
- Tommy Bowden has some perceptive analysis of Jeremy Pruitt’s history against Clemson.
- Minkah Fitzpatrick said Clemson hasn’t seen the real Alabama defense after his unit gave up 40 points last year.
- Pro Football Focus labeled Jonathan Allen the best college football player in 2016.
- On offense, expect a quarterback battle for the ages, from Charlie Potter of BamaOnline.
- Michael Casagrande assesses what changed between last year and this for Clemson.
- Jon Solomon of CBS Sports runs down six new players who will change the complex of the championship game.
- Championship game tickets are expensive in a record-breaking way.
- SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner compares Alabama and Clemson’s on-field lineups as they were rated out of high school
- Tuesday’s practice featured no new injuries, quarterback work and a stacked scout team.
See for yourself
Get highlights from Saban’s latest press conference here.
Built by Bama
- Julio Jones isn’t worried about Alabama’s chances in the title game, as you can see in the video above.
- In basketball news, JaMychal Green literally broke his face.
Last week, 74 percent of you correctly picked Alabama to cover the spread (-14), against Washington. 21 percent expected a narrow victory, which looked like a good prediction until Scarbrough turned into the human version of Bane blowing up the football field in The Dark Knight Rises. 5 percent thought Washington would win.
Around the Capstone
- Two Alabama divers posted top-20 finishes at the Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville.
- Women’s basketball will host Ole Miss on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on SEC Network+.
- Alabama record-holding long jumper Quanesha Burks is on the watchlist for the Bowerman Award, track and field’s version of the Heisman trophy.
- The baseball team is selling partial season ticket packages.