Alabama Football: Southern Cal ‘Air Raid’ and inexperienced Tide secondary

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

A season-opener with an inexperienced secondary against an ‘Air Raid’ offense may be a challenge for Alabama football.

Some college administrators are unsure if the nation will have college football in September. If not, Alabama football might have to drop its USC game from the 2020 schedule. No conference executive has suggested college football will not happen as currently scheduled. Comments coming from a few schools, like Texas A&M, have cast doubt there will not be college football earlier than next October.

Texas A&M Chancellor, John  Sharp said last week, starting in October would leave enough time for 13 game, schedule.  It is too soon to know what will happen. College schedules potentially reduced to just conference games would require a rebuilt schedule.

Those remaining optimistic college football will start in late August, include Alabama football fans looking forward to a USC game on Sept. 5. Coming off last season’s disappointment, fans, staff and players yearn for a reboot.

From a more practical perspective, the new Crimson Tide secondary needs game experience before taking on Georgia. Four of last season’s five, starting, nickel defensive backs must be replaced. Given the limited game experience of the returning group, USC could offer a much-needed challenge.

USC, Offensive Coordinator, Graham Harrell is very much an ‘Air Raid’ offense guy. Last season, the Trojans passed on 57 percent of offensive plays. That distribution of pass-to-run led to 74 percent of the USC total offense gained through the air. That 57-43 split in pass-rush offense may not change much in 2020. Traditional ‘Air Raid’ offenses have always used the pass to set up the run. What Harrell does want in 2020 is more tempo, meaning more passing plays to defend.

How effective will the USC passing attack be against the new Crimson Tide secondary? A given is Trojans quarterback, Kedon Slovis can spread the ball with accuracy. His wide receiver group is another team strength. The Tide’s nickel and dime defensive backs will need help from pressure on Slovis.

Alabama football will look for pass rushers to more frequently ‘affect’ opposing quarterbacks in 2020. A healthy front-seven should be much improved. The biggest weakness for USC will be the offensive line. Both tackles must be replaced. ‘Air Raid’ quarterbacks are taught to make quick throws. Even so, with last season’s tackles, USC gave up 28 sacks.

By comparison, Alabama football surrendered only 12 sacks. Georgia and Clemson, playing in more games, had stats similar to the Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs gave up 15 sacks and the Tigers had 18.

It will be an interesting game on multiple levels. Not the least is Pete Golding vs. Graham Harrell.

'Smitty' will set more records in 2020. dark. Next

Predicting an outcome for a game that may not be played – it just feels insane. We’ll call it anyway; Crimson Tide by 17 points.