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

Alabama players responding positively to newly hired OC Brian Daboll

Jacob Arthur

It’s no secret that Alabama football is going through some changes this offseason. Position switches and replacing former stars is at the top of the list for the Crimson Tide, but uncertainty in another area seems to be Alabama’s biggest challenge.

After going through two offensive coordinator changes this season, Alabama’s leaders on the offensive side of the ball are getting used to newly-hired OC Brian Daboll. Questions surround Alabama’s offense and how it will be different from Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. The players’ initial impressions have been positive.

“He’s a real high-intensity guy, and he really emphasizes attention to detail, focus, high energy on the field, attention to detail in the meetings,” said running back Damien Harris. “So he just brings those good qualities to our offense, and I think he’s done a great job coaching us and we all enjoy him, so I think things will go smoothly in the future.”

Alabama’s offense experienced some its best seasons under Kiffin. The team averaged 30 or more points per game in all three years, including 38.8 last season, which led the SEC. The team also ranked fourth in the conference last season in yards per game with 455.3.

The team returns some of its key stars in Harris and quarterback Jalen Hurts, but how those stars will adapt to Daboll is uncertain. Harris, for one, had a successful season in Kiffin’s system last year, rushing for a team-high 1040 yards on 145 carries.

He said the team has no choice but to embrace the flurry of changes the team was hit with this off season.

“We didn’t really have a choice but to just kind of accept it,” Harris said. “You just have to have a positive outlook and be like, [head coach Nick] Saban wouldn’t put us in any sort of position that wasn’t beneficial for us. That’s how we looked at it, that he was only trying to do what was going to help us be the most successful.”

With the sudden coordinator change, Daboll has to form relationships with players this spring. He was a relatively quiet hire in comparison to Sarkisian and Kiffin. He comes from a predominantly NFL background. He has never spent time as a college offensive coordinator, but has a wealth of experience at the pro level. He has served on an NFL staff for the last 17 years.

When it comes to his personality, many Alabama players have bought into Daboll as a coach.

“It’s really about the players. He cares about the players. He really, you know, wants us all to succeed,” said junior tight end Hale Hentges. “That is something I really enjoy. I feel like I have a personal relationship with him already even though he’s only been here for a couple of months.”

More recently, Daboll spent three seasons as the New England Patriots’ tight ends coach. There, he coached multiple talented tight ends including Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett.

In the last three seasons, tight ends have not been a featured part of Alabama’s offense. With Daboll taking over, Hentges is excited to see an expanded role at his position.

“I was majorly excited. He’s a great guy who knows a lot about the game and coaching phenomenal players like [Rob] Gronkowski,” Hentges said. “I know he has a wealth of knowledge at the tight end position. So, for him to be able to kind of instill that upon us was a great excitement on my part.”

With spring being an important time for Alabama’s offense, Daboll will have to continue to make an impression on Alabama’s key weapons. What the offense will look like next year remains to be seen, but players seems to be getting used to Daboll’s presence. It may be a refreshing change of pace after experiencing months of uncertainty amid multiple coaching switches.

“We just went right into trying to learn stuff, what we can do to get ready for spring. I feel like he’s a really smart guy,” said wide receiver Calvin Ridley. “Obviously he was with the Patriots and has won a lot of games and Super Bowls, so I respect him.”

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