Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Offensive line offers balance


Tough defense, running the ball and playing smash-mouth football have been Alabama’s calling cards during head coach Nick Saban’s tenure with the Tide.

With a young, inexperienced defense and the need to score more points, the Crimson Tide offense has become more balanced this season. In the past, defenses would load the box against the Tide and take their chances against the passing game. That is not an option this year.

“I think … a goal of ours in the offseason was when teams tried to do that, we were going to have to create more balance in what we did to try to be more difficult to defend so that they couldn’t put more guys in the box than we could block,” Saban said.  “I think … something that we’ve tried to do in each of our games this year so far is to create balance and make explosive plays in other ways.”

Saban also said the Tide is prepared for whatever the Arkansas defense throws at them Saturday.

“I think regardless of what their defense tries to do, we have to try to take advantage of what they give us and be able to execute that,” Saban said. “If it’s running it, we have to run it.  If it’s throwing it, we have to throw it, and I think that’s something we’ve done a fairly good job of so far this year.”

A good job is an understatement for this year’s offense as far as statistics go. Senior quarterback Greg McElroy, who leads the nation in passing efficiency, and his arsenal of weapons are more in tune and have the ability to make big plays down the field.

So far this season, Alabama is averaging almost 45 points per game and has totaled more than 1,600 yards of offense. The balance is shown in the split, as the Tide has racked up 874 yards passing and 752 rushing.

“We want to score every time we touch the ball,” wide receiver Julio Jones said. “We impose our will on defenses, and they don’t know what we are going to throw at them because we can run the ball and throw the ball.”

With a three-headed monster at running back, the Tide always has a more-than-capable player in the backfield. There is not much – if any – of a drop-off between Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.

“We have playmakers everywhere; in the backfield, out on the perimeter and at tight end,” Ingram said. “It’s great to be able to have balance in our offense so they can’t key in on one aspect of our game. We have explosive players everywhere you look.”

Even the defense is raving about the offense’s performance this year.

“It really helps us out,” linebacker Jerrell Harris said. “It keeps us off the field, and it keeps us fresh when we do go in [the game].”

Defensive end Damion Square said, “Those guys are incredible, the weapons we have on offense. The way they move the ball, they can score fast or put together a long drive that takes up the entire quarter. As a defensive player, it’s big-time to know that you can make three stops in a game, and the offensive is going to put up points every time you make a stop.”

Going against the No. 1 offense in practice allows the defense to always play at a high level. That has helped the defense prepare for Arkansas and other Southeastern Conference opponents.

“We face each other once or twice a week in practice, and we just go out there and try to get better and be competitive against each other,” Jones said. “We just want to get better as a unit.”

 The Tide’s offensive balance will be tested over the next three weeks as it breaks into SEC play against No. 10 Arkansas, No. 9 Florida and No. 12 South Carolina.

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