There are many Alabama Football personnel packages available for Bill O’Brien to use Saturday night. And every one of them will work. Crimson Tide fans expect O’Brien to work from a limited playbook. One reason is Nick Saban does not like to run up scores. Another reason, showcasing much of the 2022 offense early gives future opponents some advantage.
Saturday night’s game will be about execution rather than sizzle. Can the offensive line deliver consistently? Will receivers hold on to passes? Can the Crimson Tide cornerbacks and others in the secondary exhibit strong coverage skills with no miscommunication? Will both sides of the ball perform with few penalties?
Another important component for Saturday night will be the Crimson Tide backups and how they perform in game action. For all these reasons, a 40-plus point spread is not a good cover bet.
Over the summer there was speculation the Crimson Tide would return to more of a power run game. Given the talent at running back, and if the offensive line has sufficiently improved, more running makes sense. While that might not be true in every game, it will be true in at least three of the Crimson Tide’s first four games.
Last Saturday, Utah State gave up over six yards-per-carry against UConn. Last season the Aggies were 85th in the FBS in opponent rushing yards-per-carry.
Alabama Football will throw the ball Saturday night. It will not suddenly return to 2011 and 2012 Crimson Tide offenses when Team Rushing yards were roughly 50% of Total Offensive Production. Keeping the most recent Heisman-winning quarterback under wraps would make no sense. After Bryce sits, both Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson need passing reps in games.
Conservative Alabama Football Offense
But the Alabama Crimson Tide will win against Utah State, no matter how conservatively it plays on offense. Accordingly, the main offensive package can be 11 Personnel, meaning one running back and one tight end. The three wides in that package are sufficient. Another good option would be 21 Personnel with two running backs, one tight end, and just two receivers.
Cameron Latu might have recovered enough to play, but holding him out of contact for another week or two may make the most sense. Without him as a receiving tight end, a running back can provide receptions. Latu’s backup, Robbie Ouzts’ best skill is as a blocker. So as many Crimson Tide fans implored in the past – run the damn ball!
Would the same plan be sound for Texas? Probably not, but using it against Utah State limits how much the Longhorns will know before Sept. 10.