2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game Preview Series: Alabama Offense

Written by Erik Slaby 
Atlanta, GA – Alabama has long been a national powerhouse. Known for their physicality and punishing defense and that’s not any different this season. It’s not the only thing they should be known for though. With two days left before the Crimson Tide face off against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game, the Alabama offense has flown a bit under the radar.

With the injuries surrounding Alabama’s defense and their defensive domination against Clemson last week in the Sugar Bowl, their defense has been talked about at length by the media, and rightfully so as it is impressive. In addition, their opponent in Georgia has also received a great deal of attention for their performance against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl last week.

Alabama often does not get enough credit for their offense as it is not as flashy as other offenses in college football but that should not matter. Alabama is led by a very strong rushing attack, a dominant offensive line and a quarterback in Jalen Hurts who has improved vastly since last season at this time. Alabama running back Damien Harris spoke at Media Day about Hurts and how much he has progressed as a leader from last year to this year.

“I think the biggest compliment for Jalen is his leadership,” said Harris. “That leadership role that he’s really stepped into this year. Last year he basically, led just based off of his ability. He’s true freshman, 18-year-old kid that kinda came in and it’s hard for somebody in that position to step up and be vocal, be that vocal leader off the field that you need. I think over the last year, he’s really done a good job stepping into that leadership role, being a guy that’s not afraid to speak up in team meetings, or address an issue that we have as a team. So, I think that’s really cemented his leadership on this team.”

Several teammates spoke about the growth of Hurts from a year ago and many of them highlighted his improved ability to read defenses and go through his reads. Alabama tight end Irvin Smith Jr. stated that while Hurts is a great runner, he has greatly improved his downfield passing skills this year.

“He’s been working hard and improving on down the field throwing,” said Smith Jr. “Looking down the field and going through his reads. I feel like he’s definitely improved on that.”

Alabama’s passing attack, while not as high-powered as some offenses, is very efficient. They are ranked 8th in the country in team passing efficiency. They are also ranked 12th in scoring offense. Where Alabama’s real strength lies offensively though is in their rushing attack.

Alabama’s rushing offense is ranked 10th overall in the country and they have a plethora of different players that can run the ball effectively. Harris is the leading rushing on the team with 983 yards and 11 touchdowns, Hurts has 808 yards rushing and eight rushing touchdowns as a quarterback. Backup running backs Bo Scarbrough, Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs have also combined for 1,155 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns on the year. Because of their depth and versatility at running back, the Alabama rushing attack is very difficult to stop. They can rotate their running backs throughout the game, staying fresh and not losing a beat.

If Alabama can continue to run the ball both efficiently and effectively, they will likely find more success passing the ball and their chances of winning this game will increase dramatically. Alabama is a very physical team offensively and that will force Georgia to play just as physical every time Alabama is on offense.

The 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship takes place on January 8th, 2018 at 8PM EST at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

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