Under new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, Alabama Football has expressed its intention to run the ball more and be more physical at the line of scrimmage.
Among college football fans and some media members, there seems to be a widespread belief that Alabama Football aims to “return to the old days” and run the ball at a disproportionately high rate.
I haven’t seen any indication that this is Rees’ plan. Instead, Rees intends to implement balance, something the Alabama offense hasn’t always had in recent years.
With high-octane passing offenses taking over college football in the mid-2010s, Coach Nick Saban begrudgingly made the decision to concede to the beat of the sport, installing a modernized quick-strike attack that fit his personnel.
Although the spread is the furthest thing from Saban’s preferred style, he hired several excellent coordinators to help facilitate the process, such as Mike Locksley and Steve Sarkisian.
I would argue that once he made the switch, spread offenses under Saban were as good as anywhere else in the country. Over the years, however, these offenses gradually grew more and more pass-heavy and quarterback reliant. At some point, it just went too far. By 2022, Bryce Young was essentially carrying the Alabama offense on his back at some points.
Although it was still good, Alabama Football was almost unrecognizable at times last year. With a scat back like Jahmyr Gibbs getting the lion’s share of the carries in an offense that went shotgun in goal line situations, it just didn’t look or feel like the Bama of old. The offense lacked a physical edge, and opposing defenses were able to dictate the line of scrimmage far too often.
Under Tommy Rees, Alabama proposes to bring that smashmouth element back into its offense. While this element used to be the entire identity of the Alabama Football offense, Rees wants to use it as a foundation while still implementing modern passing schemes and spread concepts.
A balanced Crimson Tide offense may be the last thing opposing defenses want to see, given the amount of weapons on this 2023 roster.
This approach will keep defenses guessing on every snap, and will make life much easier for Bama’s young starting quarterback. Rees’ unit may be dependent on its own defense early on, as it likely won’t be built to outscore opponents and win shootouts.
Ideally, however, it will be prepared to do so if necessary by December.