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.

ICYMI

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. 

Prediction time

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 Rises5 percent thought Washington would win.

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