Alabama Football: Offense, not defense, the key to a 2017 championship

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 16: Jalen Hurts
TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 16: Jalen Hurts /
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So far, Alabama football has looked championship-caliber. However, it will be Alabama’s offense, not defense, that will determine a championship.

As Alabama fans, we’ve all heard the mantra of “Defense wins championships.” To a degree, that’s a very accurate statement. If you look at the results of the 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 championships, games were won or lost by defense. None more so than the 2011 and 2012 games that allowed a total of 14 points (0 in 2011). The brand Alabama football has been synonymous with hard-nosed defense.

This year is different. Alabama’s defense has been really good so far. But as good as the defense is playing, Alabama’s offense is what’s making this team just absolutely dangerous.

Alabama On The Offensive

Alabama, being a generational program, has had some bad offensive eras. Being born and raised on Alabama Football, I’ve sat through one of the ugliest offensive years in the program’s history. In the Mike Shula era, the offense was more one-dimensional than a line on a sheet of paper. It has its own running joke, “Darby up the middle.” That seemed like the only play Shula knew how to run.

Fast-forward to now and it’s a very different team. But it’s got a new wrinkle that few expected. The running game is Alabama’s bread and butter. Alabama football, to date, has rushed for 1,251 yards of offense. This time last year, Alabama was sitting at 985 and ended up with 3,675 yards in 15 games.

If Alabama were to keep at this pace (meaning make it to the national championship), they would end the season with 4,691 rushing yards this season. The season record is 4,027 yards. That would be a major record broken.

Passing numbers are down, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Total passing yardage so far is 717, compared to 1,212 last year. Attempts are also down, from 134 to 93. That’s likely due to the influence of coordinator Brian Daboll, who has shown he’s not scared to pound the ball on the ground. Even when passing, Alabama looks more clean than it has in a long time.

But the biggest reason Alabama’s offense is its best weapon? Two words:

Game Control

Game control has a lot to do with defense, which seems to conflict with my argument of offense over defense. However, Alabama football has looked soundly in control by way of its offense and this was best exemplified by Alabama 59-0 shutout of Vanderbilt.

Alabama looked more focused than it ever had been. Pass after pass, run after run, it seemed Vanderbilt was simply something in the way of Alabama doing its job. Alabama took each possession it had and used it to impose its will on the field.

Although QB Jalen Hurts was not the top rusher, he was the leader of the offense. Damien Harris and all the rushing squad were intent on gaining every yard. The team was business-like in its thrashing of the Commodores.

The way Alabama wills opponents into absolute surrender has been a theme. From Florida State to Vanderbilt, every opponent has reached the fourth quarter exhausted whereas Alabama is just ready to give them more and more. When your offense is so dynamic, so focused and so unwilling to give anything up, that is true game control.

As Alabama has bigger dragons to face, can they pummel these opponents as well? Time will tell, but it seems Alabama’s Offense is its best defense right now.

For more on Alabama’s ball control, check out this article from our Brandon Nickel.

Next: Alabama Football respects the game and commands opponents

Ole Miss week is more than just another SEC game. Payback is sweet when it is so richly deserved. We will update all the Alabama football news leading to Saturday’s big game.