Alabama Football Daily Insider: What To Do With All The RB’s and LB’s?

Oct 10, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; A general view of Bryant-Denny Stadium during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; A general view of Bryant-Denny Stadium during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama football fans have a big appetite for information and we’ll be serving up healthy portions of hot food for thought with a side of seasonal inside information every morning this Spring.

There was a time when getting to the Waysider early on a weekday morning was the best way to learn what was really going on with Alabama football.

In the compact dining area, all you had to do was listen. Most conversations included tidbits of information about the University and the football program.

These days there is more to be gleaned by surveying the digital landscape of multitudinous sources. The problem with this wondrous abundance of information is in separating the sense from the nonsense.

That’s where we come in. This column will endeavor to guide that process of discernment.

We’ll peruse message boards, podcasts, tweets, talk radio and numerous digital communication platforms. We’ll ferret out the most worthwhile information and offer our take on what it means.

The Daily Insider: March 30

Alabama football was not on the practice field on Wednesday so we can spend some time considering a broad issue. What the heck to do with all these exceptional football players?

Nick Saban offered some details about Alabama football and the functions of coaching analysts. SEC Country:

"“We’ve learned a tremendous amount from all of those guys. I think that’s the No. 1 thing,” Saban said. “I think their knowledge and experience and I think they’re very much respected. I think we need different types of people. We have guys that do nothing but break down film. We have guys that do nothing but draw plays and we have guys that make contributions based on their knowledge and experience formulating a game plan.”"

A close review of the 2017 roster reveals an overabundance of running backs and linebackers worthy of significant roles. Alabama football has 10 linebackers and seven running backs too good to only compete on special teams.

The Tide’s deep staff of off-field analysts must be racking their brains for suggestions. Let’s take a look at the linebackers first.

  • Shaun Dion Hamilton – Senior – 6′, 232 lbs.
  • Rashaan Evans – Senior – 6′ 3″, 235 lbs.
  • Christian Miller – Redshirt Junior – 6′ 4″, 250 lbs.
  • Anfernee Jennings – Redshirt Sophomore – 6′ 3″, 265 lbs
  • Terrell Hall – Sophomore – 6′ 5″, 248 lbs.
  • Mack Wilson – Sophomore – 6′ 2″, 245 lbs.
  • Keith Holcombe – Redshirt Junior – 6′ 4″, 230 lbs.
  • Ben Davis – Redshirt Freshman – 6′ 4″, 235 lbs.
  • Dylan Moses – Freshman – 6′ 3″, 235 lbs.
  • Jamey Mosley – Redshirt Junior – 6′ 5″, 230 lbs.

Ten guys, almost all of whom would start at more than half the schools in the SEC. How to use all these guys in four positions is a riddle. The answer to the riddle lies deep inside the defensive schemes for Alabama football.

We can label it situational substitution but that does not explain the mix-n-match into the when-n-where. Certain players are better suited against the power running teams, like Arkansas and LSU. Others are blessed with speed and quickness to combat the uber spread attacks.

Alabama football is known for the complexity of its defensive schemes. In 2017, part of that complexity will be mastering situational substitution. One thing we can be sure of in 2017 – no matter how many plays an opponent runs, the Tide should always have a fresh linebacker available. Is 2017 the Tide’s Best LB Group Ever?

On the offensive side of the ball, the problem of substitution is even greater. Let’s review the running backs:

  • Damien Harris – Junior – 5′ 11″, 215 lbs.
  • Bo Scarbrough – Junior – 6′ 2″, 230 lbs.
  • Josh Jacobs – Sophomore – 5′ 10″, 205 lbs.
  • B.J. Emmons – Sophomore – 6′, 208 lbs.
  • Najee Harris – Freshman – 6′ 2″, 225 lbs.
  • Brian Robinson – Freshman – 6′ 1″, 225 lbs.
  • Chadarius Townsend – Freshman – 6′, 190 lbs.

Seven guys and one running back position unless the Tide reverts to the wishbone. Townsend is as likely to be a slot receiver as a running back, developing into a Kenyon Drake type role in successive seasons.

Alabama Crimson Tide Football
Alabama Crimson Tide Football /

Alabama Crimson Tide Football

That still leaves six RB’s and one ball. Alabama football can find room for three, but which three. One of the answers, and it might even lead to four of the RB’s being involved, is a two-back wrinkle. Instead of the H-back primarily being a blocker, a second RB could often be a receiver.

Bo, Najee and Jacobs are respected for their pass catching ability. Using them in a two-back wrinkle would be taking RPO to a new level.

If we are really trying to think of surprise schemes,  Najee Harris played some wildcat QB in high school.

Maybe that is why Alabama football needs so many off-the-field offensive gurus.

Alabama football, lots of tools, lots of options – lots of ideas for fans to bandy about between now and FSU.

Next: What About the Big Uglies?

Let us hear your ideas on 2017 offensive and defensive schemes. We’ll update the Daily Insider each morning throughout the spring. Check in with us on Facebook or Twitter.