Bama’s Offense Heading into National Championship Game

As Monday’s National Championship game draws near, I decided to break down the offense of what has become one of my favorite teams… Alabama.

Yes Kiffin is out and Sark is in, but I do not expect a ton to change offensively.  Coach Sark has been on staff all year and as an analyst I’m sure has had his hand in the game planning process each week.

The offense had some struggles in their playoff game against Washington but I wanted to take a look at the plays that worked well for them against UW and what I think they will use against Clemson in the National Championship.

Below I took a look at several concepts that worked last week and that THEY NEED to work well Monday in order to win.

QB Run Game:

UW did a great job defending the QB sweeps that Bama runs, but Freshman QB Jalen Hurts was much more successful running the ball on some of their read based QB runs.

Toss Read:

I have written about the Toss Read play HERE (Clemson) AND HERE (North Carolina)

RB attacks wide, the DE is left unblocked and the QB reads him.

Bama runs several End read schemes.  They will threaten him with a toss or a sweep path by RB (both with power blocking for the OL).  Look for the Toss Read and the Power Read to be key concepts for BOTH offenses in the Natty.

Inverted Veer/Bash:

Another play Bama uses is the inverted veer or “Bash” concept as some call it.

The OL will block Inside Zone (IZ) leaving the backside DE unblocked.  The Rb runs a wide sweep path toward the DE as the QB shuffles reading him.  If the DE squeezes he gives the ball to the RB around the edge.  If the DE widens with the Rb, the Qb keeps the ball and runs inside.

Zone “Bluff”:

Bama will often use an H back to “slice” across the formation and block the backside DE.  One wrinkle off of this is the “BLUFF” tag.  The H back will now bypass the DE, running around him to block the force player.  This gets the QB an extra blocker outside if the DE crashes and he pulls the ball on the zone read.

Zone Run Game:

Bunch Zone Dive:

I think Coach Sark is going to POUND THE BALL.  Bama can do this in many ways but one particular way to look out for is via the bunch formation.  Bama had several successful runs against UW running a zone dive toward a Bunch Set.  OL looks to be using Zone principles to the right.  In the Bunch the WR blocks the corner and the TE looks to base the defender over him.  As the H back zones right with the Left Tackle (looking to climb if DE pinches inside big Cam Robinson) this creates a natural crease between the LT and the bunched TE.  With the rest of the OL zone blocking, it gives the back options to run to daylight.

Pass Game:

While I believe Coach Sark will pound the ball with Hurts and the stable of backs, they will need Hurts to step up and make some plays with his arm to win back to back titles.

Play Action to OJ Howard:

OJ Howard had his coming out party against Clemson in last year’s Natty catching 5 passes for 208 yards and 2 TDs.  He will be a valuable play action weapon for Hurts in this game.

Play Action Wheel:

One way Bama has gotten hurts the ball is running him on wheels/vertical routes to the boundary.  The play starts off looking like Power Read.  Howard is a great blocker on the perimeter so the defense has to respect the run look.  As the WR releases inside and gets vertical, it clears out space for Howard to settle in the hole.

Sprint Out:

Another concept I look for Bama to use is the Sprint Out Pass.  With an athletic, young QB like Hurts one of the easiest ways to get a completion is to sprint him out to his right.  It cuts the field in half for him, he is moving toward his target and in some ways a sprint out simplifies things for him.  He can roll out, read 1 defender and fire the ball in there.  Sprinting him out also puts stress on the defense to keep him contained because his legs are still his most dangerous weapon and he can take off if everyone is covered.

Here are 2 Sprint Outs Bama hit vs UW.

The second one got called back as a Bama WR covered up his teammate, but look for Bama to use the Sprint out against Clemson.

Conclusion:

I look forward to the National Championship because they gave us such a great game last year.  Both teams are full of NFL talent.  I look forward to seeing how Coach Sark runs the offense and I am sure we will see these concepts in the game Monday Night.

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