Alabama Football: How will Crimson Tide offense look in the Sugar Bowl?

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

The offense for Alabama football has experienced well-documented struggles this season. The unit underperformed in early September at Texas all the way to late November against Austin Peay, with a handful of exceptions in between.

Throughout the year, the offense could not consistently establish the run, and never showed the explosiveness in the passing game that has been a strength of recent Alabama Football teams. Receivers dropped too many passes, and the offensive line failed to get a push in short yardage situations.

Still, the Alabama offense showed occasional flashes of what it could’ve been. Prior to Bryce Young’s shoulder injury, the unit appeared to have found its stride against Arkansas. In the first quarter of that game, the offense was humming to the tune of 14 quick points.

Bryce Young completed three passes of 40 yards or more in the first quarter, after entering the game having completed just one such pass in the previous four games. Had Young not gotten injured shortly after, perhaps the Alabama offense would’ve taken off from that point forward.

The offense was also electric in the loss to Tennessee, as Bryce Young threw for a season-high 455 yards and posted 42 offensive points. However, this game proved to be an outlier. After Young’s injury in week five, this would be the only time Alabama eclipsed 34 points until the Iron Bowl at the end of the regular season.

The Crimson Tide’s 49-point showing against Auburn is promising because it is the most recent data point we have seen from the Alabama offense. Bryce Young finally looked healthy in the game, completing passes all over the field and helping Bama to 516 yards of total offense. The vertical aspect of the passing game, which had been absent in previous weeks, returned and opened up the rest of the offense.

Will this be the version of the Alabama offense that shows up in New Orleans? If so, the Kansas State Wildcats could have a hard time keeping up. When it’s clicking, Alabama has one of the nation’s most high-octane offenses. The issue has been the lack of consistency. With four weeks of preparation and plenty of practice leading up to the game, the Tide offense should bring the best version of itself to the Sugar Bowl.

With several transfer portal exits both in the receiving corps and on the offensive line, Bama’s offensive rotations should be pared down and streamlined. Players that will be key components of the 2023 offense will have the opportunity to settle into their roles against K-State. Other players, such as Bryce Young and possibly Jahmyr Gibbs, could put on one final show for NFL scouts before departing, much like Jerry Jeudy did in the 2019 Citrus Bowl.

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Alabama football hopes to open up a new chapter on the offensive side of the ball in 2023. This bowl game presents a huge opportunity for the unit to build momentum towards that success.