Alabama’s Offense Ready to be Great
By BJ Bennett
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Who Nick Saban hires at offensive coordinator is yet to be determined; the unit's potential, however, is quite clear.
With Steve Sarkisian being hired as the new offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, all after one game in that role with Alabama, the Crimson Tide have a high-profile staff vacancy once again. A number of names are being mentioned for the open position; whoever steps in to call the plays, may have the nation's best collection of talent with which to work. Alabama's offense is poised to be as productive as ever next fall.
Six starters are set to return for the Crimson Tide, including quarterback Jalen Hurts, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Despite not opening the season as starter, Hurts finished last season with 2,780 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns on 62.8% completions. He added 954 rushing yards and 13 scores on the ground. Hurts stood in the top five in the SEC in both passer rating and rushing touchdowns, a testament to his remarkable talent and versatility. A year of experience will only make Hurts that much better.
After finishing second in the SEC in receptions as a freshman and a sophomore, Calvin Ridley will enter this summer as an All-American candidate on the perimeter. He has compiled 161 catches for 1,814 yards and 14 touchdowns through his first two years, making countless key grabs as Alabama has advanced to back-to-back College Football Playoff Finals. Ridley already ranks fourth in Crimson Tide history in career receptions and is poised to overtake Amari Cooper as the program's all-time leading receiver as a junior.
Bo Scarbrough emerged as a star late last season for Alabama, rushing for 90 yards in the Iron Bowl, 91 yards and two touchdowns in the SEC Championship Game, 180 yards and two more scores as Offensive MVP of the Peach Bowl and 93 yards and two touchdowns before breaking a bone in his leg in the national title bout. At 6'2'', 228 pounds, Scarbrough is the prototype for a powerful downhill runner. Over the Crimson Tide's final few games, only injury could slow him down. Also back is speedy Damien Harris, who topped 1,000 yards this past year and averaged over seven yards per carry as a dynamic big-play threat.
Tackle Jonah Williams and guard Ross Pierschbacher, fresh off all-conference freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively, will lead another impressive front line for Alabama.
Notable leaders must be replaced as tight end O.J. Howard and tackle Cam Robinson are likely to become first round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. But there is always blue-chip talent waiting in the wings in Tuscaloosa. In what is becoming a February formality, Nick Saban just signed the nation's top recruiting class, featuring, among others, a top quarterback, running back, wide receiver and offensive tackle. At every position, the depth chart is filled with five-stars.
Who Saban hires at offensive coordinator is yet to be determined; the unit's potential, however, is quite clear. In addition to the star power returning, a number of highly-touted up-and-comers are ready for their chances. Spring practice, with the Crimson Tide anxious to get back on the field after a rare championship defeat, will be fascinating. Alabama's new offensive coordinator will be mixing and matching with some of the top playmakers in the game.