2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game Preview Series: Alabama Offense

Written By: Brett Korpi
(Photo Credit: SaJorden Miller/ The SkyBoat)
(Tampa, FL) Welcome to the fourth part of our series of previews leading up to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Which, is the much-hyped rematch between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson. Today we will break down the Alabama offense.

Last Monday, it was announced that Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin decided to mutually part ways so that Kiffin could focus on his new job as head coach of Florida Atlantic University. So Alabama could prepare for the National Championship game with a coordinator who is solely focused on finding ways to beat a tremendous Clemson defense.

When FAU initially hired Kiffin, it was announced that  Steve Sarkisian would be the man in charge of the offense next season, but with the departure happening just a week before the title game that timetable has been sped up.

The former USC and Washington head coach has been with the Crimson Tide staff since September working as an analyst, where his focus was on helping with game plans. Sarkisian arrived at Alabama after being out of football for nearly a year. He had been fired from his head coaching duties because of a series of alcohol-related events.

The coordinator change before such an important game is an unprecedented event and creates a question mark for the offense entering a matchup against the eighth-ranked defense in the country.

“It is a great challenge, they are an athletic, fast defense, they do a lot,” Sarkisian said of the Tigers.

In addition to strategizing a game plan to beat the Clemson, Sarkisian, will also have the added task of creating a smooth transition for the players.

“I just try to be me, upbeat and positive.” He said of his approach with the players. “I have been trying to set a good tempo and energy at practice.”

The players are also trying to acclimate to the coach who had just been behind the scenes this season.

The player who will have the biggest adjustment is quarterback Jalen Hurts. The true-freshman was brought in and mentored by Kiffin. However, he seems to appreciate the new coordinator’s approach.

“Practices are faster and energetic, I like it,” Hurts said of Sarkisian’s approach.

It does help that Sarkisian has been with the team all year, even in a limited capacity. The 42- year-old knows the weapons that he has at his disposal.

In Hurts, he has a player that has surpassed expectation playing one of the most high-profile positions in college football. The dual-threat has thrown 2,649 yards and 22 touchdowns while making use of his legs at the tone of 891 yards and 12 more touchdowns.

The Tide also boast three other players that have rushed for over 500 yards. Damien Harris leads the team with 1,016 yards and two scores.

Bo Scarbrough, who had an electrifying 85-yard touchdown that put away Washington in the Peach Bowl, adds 719 yards and nine scores. While, Joshua Jacobs has been able to run for 548 yards and four scores.

Hurts have three major targets at his disposal in the passing game. ArDarius Stewart leads all receivers with 852 yards and eight touchdowns. While, Calvin Ridley has a team-high 67 catches for 733 yards and seven scores. Tight end O.J. Howard is a weapon in the red-zone and has 489 yards and two scores.

Cam Robinson leads the offensive line that will go up against a Clemson front four that Sarkisian described as “nothing I have ever seen before.”

On Monday night, Sarkisian and the Alabama offense hope to turn the question mark into an exclamation point.

The College Football Playoff National Championship will be played on Monday, January 9th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Check back tomorrow for a preview the Clemson defense.

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