At this point in the season, it’s difficult to accurately characterize the offense for Alabama Football from a statistical standpoint. This is largely because the offense has spent so much time experimenting early in the 2023 season.
I would argue that, while it has shown significant growth, the offense is still a work in progress. Through six games, stats don’t come close to telling the entire story. This is an offense that is beginning to find its identity.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe is the straw that stirs the drink for this Alabama offense. In terms of raw physical ability, one would assume that Milroe’s greatest strength is his running ability. That hasn’t necessarily been the case this year. Milroe has taken a lot of sacks that have skewed his statistical production, but he also simply hasn’t been the beneficiary of many designed runs. His biggest runs this season have mostly come on scrambles and broken plays.
Surprisingly to most, Milroe’s biggest positive impact this season has come courtesy of his arm. He is getting better every week, and ranks as a top-three passer in the SEC in terms of efficiency rating and yards per attempt (along with LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Missouri’s Brady Cook).
The Alabama coaching staff, namely offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, has done a much better job of gameplanning around Milroe’s strengths and setting him up for success while allowing him to develop. Milroe now appears much more comfortable in the pocket, and I expect Bama to utilize his legs to a larger degree if it becomes necessary.
Alabama Football: Establishing the run
The running game for Alabama Football has not been very effective thus far, perhaps a product of opposing teams loading the box. Senior running backs Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams have received the lion’s share of the carries, and haven’t always been able to find room to operate. Coach Saban has left the door open to go deeper in the running back room, but it hasn’t happened yet.
I have chosen to remain optimistic about the Bama running game. The poor numbers that the ground game has posted could be due to the learning curve of an offensive line that had not previously played together as a unit. In fact, the Tide is still shuffling its offensive line, which could be causing chemistry issues.
Additionally, Alabama has already played two of the best defensive fronts in all of college football in Texas and Texas A&M. The two Texas schools have elite front sevens whose talent level rivals established NFL factories such as Bama and Georgia.
A&M is statistically a top-10 defense in the country against the run, allowing 84 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry. While Bama has struggled on the ground even relative to its opponents, it has shown promising flashes and I expect it to improve in the latter half of the season.
Alabama Football: Two more growing units
The Bama receiver room is also a work in progress, but the talent here is undeniable. The Alabama passing game has been characterized by big plays, highlighted by Jermaine Burton’s SEC-leading 22.7 yards per reception. Isaiah Bond, tight end Amari Niblack, and several others have also contributed to the vertical passing attack for Alabama Football.
Underneath, Burton and Bond have been underrated options. Bama fans are hoping for increased contributions from juniors Ja’Corey Brooks and Malik Benson in the second half of the season.
The Alabama offensive line has had moments of dominance, such as the second halves against South Florida and Ole Miss. Still, it has not consistently produced enough to allow the offense to function optimally.
True freshman Kadyn Proctor and redshirt freshman Elijah Pritchett have both seen reps at left tackle, while the right guard position has been something of a turnstile. Both Darrian Dalcourt and Terrence Ferguson II have seen significant playing time at the position. With both players battling injury at Texas A&M, redshirt sophomore Jaeden Roberts got the start and played pretty well.
Overall, this offensive line has to be more consistent in creating running lanes, and has to play with more discipline to avoid drive-killing penalties.
As a unit, this offense has taken its lumps in September and early October. As the weather turns brisk, this looks like a group that is ready to round into form. If it can do so, Alabama Football will be a force to be reckoned with.