Alabama Football: Paul Brown would want the Tide to run

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 16: The Alabama Crimson Tide offense lines up against the Colorado State Rams defense at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 16: The Alabama Crimson Tide offense lines up against the Colorado State Rams defense at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The legendary head coach Paul Brown would want his fanboy Nick Saban to have the Alabama Crimson Tide run the ball down Clemson’s throat in the Sugar Bowl.

Just run the ball. Prove that your metal is stronger than theirs.

One can almost picture Paul Brown, the famous coach and owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, whispering that into Saban’s ear from wherever his spirit is today.

So many people have criticized the Alabama football team for not using their platoon of running backs enough. Possibly, it has been enough for Brown’s ghost to haunt offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to change his game plan, or to make Saban do it for him.

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When the Browns, named after their coach, were brought into the NFL to take on the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland beat the snot out of them. They were not the winless and witless franchise of today. Yet, after the game, criticism came that all the Browns did was pass, like they were playing keep-away in a basketball match or some childish game.

Brown decided that the next time they met on the gridiron he would run the football so deep into the Eagles’ throats that they wouldn’t be able to say anything afterwards.

In that second game, the Browns never threw the ball in the game. Not once. The Browns won 13-7.

Considering Saban’s public fandom for Brown, one cannot help but think of Brown looking sternly at Saban and Daboll after the Crimson Tide only rushed their running backs 20 times for in this year’s Iron Bowl.

It makes the hashtag #OutworkYesterday that much more resonating this week:

Saban, especially, would feel the effects of Brown’s glare. Harvey Fialkov Harvey Fialkov and Barbara Hijek of in 2005 wrote that “the Sabans’ coaching roots stem from the same ‘Paul Brown’ branches” as other famous coaches like former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula.

When asked about how Nick’s relative Lou Saban, himself, and other players reacted to the innovative coach, Shula said, “We were all students of the Paul Brown system. He demanded teaching and discipline and short organized practices and teams that didn’t make mistakes who played to the best of their ability.”

Saban learned from his father and Bill Belichick how to run a football team, and they grew up in the Paul Brown era of details mattering the most.

It also didn’t hurt that Paul Brown had Jim Brown to rush the ball, who looked like a man among boys when he took the field. Jim Brown may have been the greatest rusher to ever play football. How could that not be the inspiration for Saban’s continuous focus on running backs and the use of the running game throughout his coaching career?

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Damien Harris may not be Jim Brown, but the leading rusher for Alabama is primed for a big game. He only got six carries against Auburn, and not for a lack of success. He earned 51 yards, which equates to 8.5 yards per carry. If Coach Brown’s ghost were on the Alabama sidelines, that would be when he would slap the back of Daboll’s head and ask for a refund on his brain.

Add the fact that Bo Scarbrough rushed six times for an average of 7.7 yards and Coach Brown would have to spin around to Coach Saban and ask what happened.

The Sugar Bowl against Clemson will be a tough test of Alabama’s running game, but it was their identity that helped get them to the playoffs in the first place. Coach Saban has tweaked his offense to be more balanced, but his focus has almost always been the running game. People say that defense wins championships; yet, Coach Brown showed coaches like Saban that the running game can control the tempo in one’s favor. It’s time that the Crimson Tide went back to that mantra.

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Besides, Coach Saban’s first NFL job was with the Browns. Does anyone think that Coach Saban doesn’t think about that in every decision that he makes? Coach Brown still speaks to him, especially when running the ball. The running game, on the surface, looks simple but is vastly complicated, and it can be the life blood of Alabama football if it is allowed to flow.

And, it can choke off an opponent gasping for air. Hard to talk with a football down one’s throat. Just ask those Eagles who tried to criticize Saban’s hero. If it was good enough for Brown, then it should be good enough for Saban to Roll Tide over Clemson and any Alabama doubters watching.