Alabama Football: Can the Tide field an explosive offense under Kalen DeBoer?

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

There are a lot of question marks about 49-year old Kalen DeBoer, the newly minted Alabama Football coach who will follow the legendary Coach Nick Saban.

One thing Bama fans hope DeBoer will bring with him from his previous post at Washington is one of the best offensive attacks in college football. Under Deboer in 2022 and 2023, the Huskies had an electric passing offense featuring Heisman candidate Michael Penix Jr. at quarterback.

Penix Jr. threw for over 4,900 yards in 2023 as Washington finished as the national runner-up. DeBoer’s team also fielded a 1,000-yard running back in former Mississippi State standout Dillon Johnson and a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk. 

It seems as though Kalen DeBoer is looking to bring the key pieces of his offensive staff along with him to Tuscaloosa. Offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, who was pursued by Coach Saban for the same position last offseason, is now expected to accompany DeBoer. There is also a potential opening for Washington wide receiver coach JaMarcus Shephard. Long-time Bama receivers coach Holmon Wiggins departed for Texas A&M earlier this month, and Shephard is one of the hottest young position coaches in the sport. 

While it may take several more days or weeks for the offensive staff to be entirely assembled, it will have plenty of talent to work with. Alabama Football expects to return its own Heisman candidate at quarterback in Jalen Milroe, as well as gifted signal-callers such as redshirt sophomore Ty Simpson, redshirt freshman Dylan Lonergan, and true freshman Julian Sayin.

The running back room should be equally loaded with Jam Miller and Justice Haynes leading the way, followed by Richard Young and 2024 signees Kevin Riley and Daniel Hill.

The receiver position is currently in flux, a concern that could be eased by the timely filling of the offensive coordinator and receiver coach positions. The status of both Isaiah Bond and Ryan Williams remains in question, and will have to be a top priority for Bama’s new offensive staff. Bond was slated to be the Tide’s leading returning receiver before entering the transfer portal shortly after Coach Saban’s retirement announcement. Bond is reportedly visiting Texas this weekend and has already received crystal ball predictions to join the Longhorns. Similarly, 5-star Ryan Williams swiftly decommitted from Alabama after Coach Saban’s retirement. Williams, a long-time Bama commit and one of the most highly-anticipated recruits in recent memory, was slated to sign on February 9th and join the Crimson Tide this fall. 

Even if this offense goes without Bond and Williams, it will have weapons to choose from on the perimeter. Juniors Kendrick Law and Kobe Prentice will lead the way, with potential breakout seasons from guys like sophomore Jalen Hale and tight end Amari Niblack.

It will also be critical for DeBoer and company to retain the offensive line talent Coach Saban has stockpiled. Ideally, he will keep offensive line coach Eric Wolford on board, which would help with roster retention. Bama already got indication on social media that standout guard and vocal leader Tyler Booker will return, and would benefit from similar announcements from guys like Kadyn Proctor and Jaeden Roberts. 

A lot of change has taken place over the past week. At least on the offensive side of the ball, some of this change could prove to be for the better in 2024.