Alabama Football: Players like following Steve Sarkisian’s script

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Scripting plays is a cornerstone of west coast offenses and Alabama football, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian creates a script for every game.

Alabama football Offensive Coordinator, Steve Sarkisian is a proponent of an offensive style generally labeled West Coast. Like most perceived innovations in football, West Coast was a variation on previous themes. It was preceded in the NFL by vertical passing offenses, the Air Raid and Air Coryell.

The Air Raid goes all the way back to NFL legend Sid Luckman. Air Coryell got its name from the San Diego Chargers head coach, Don Coryell. The Chargers and the Oakland Raiders embraced wide open passing attacks and with both teams based in California, ‘West Coast’ was used to describe the offensive style.

NFL history buffs argue credit for the West Coast should actually go to Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach, Paul Brown. Brown was the NFL guru who decided to use the passing game to set up the running game.

Bill Walsh made the ‘West Coast’ variation of Paul Brown popular in San Francisco. The focal point of the 49ers offense was stretching the defense with horizontal passing. The purpose was to make defenses more vulnerable to both running and vertical passing routes. As Walsh and Joe Montana made the offense famous, they used pre-scripted plays at the start of every game. The script was almost always followed without consideration for down and distance.

Because of Steve Sarkisian, Alabama football also uses game scripts. The offensive players love it.

The way it works is 10-20 plays are scripted during game week. The players study and practice them repeatedly. Nick Saban explained his thinking on the use of play scripts.

"this whole script idea is something that you want to try to do because you have certain things that you like, that you want one of two things to happen… you want to see how the defense lines up against it so you know when you go back to it what works best, what complements it best. The second thing is, it gives you a good idea how you prepared all week what the players like and what you feel like you have the most success in terms of creating a little confidence or momentum early in the game."

The players not only love the scripts, they are also so interchangeable, where they line up is fluid. Based on recent video, it has been suggested they sometimes quickly do ‘rock-paper-scissors’ to determine who gets the next prime route. Nick Saban has disavowed any knowledge of such a practice.

The Alabama football scripts are not as rigid as those used by Bill Walsh. There are deviations. There are considerations for down and distance. Sark and Tua make adjustments. All of which makes scripting more effective.

Next. A look at the top Tide linebackers. dark

Perhaps a tad bit of context is in order. As Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” No scripts work without blocking, running, throwing and catching fundamental execution.