Alabama Recruiting 2012: Is This the Beginning of an SEC Air Raid?
In a post-game interview following the national championship, Alabama football coach Nick Saban said the following: "I just want everybody to know I'm not conservative. I want to throw the ball all the time."
Believe me, the fact that we have running backs Eddie Lacy, Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart and T.J. Yeldon is not lost on me. I am fully aware that Nick Saban is not going to neglect the running backs in favor of a five-wide package every down.
However, the talent A.J. McCarron displayed on the championship field in New Orleans raises the question now that we're at the peak of recruiting season: "What could he do with 4- and 5-star receivers?"
I will cover this in more depth in the conclusion.
*Recruits are confirmed via rolltide.com.
While I sit here alone in the camp of "Williams would be better on defense," I will play devil's advocate and call him a receiver for this article.
Williams is a beast, and Alabama has holes to fill. Those holes include the receiver positions, and Williams would be a priceless addition to the corps.
If the Tide is to build an "air raid" offense, it starts with the fighter pilots.
Amari Cooper is more than just a wish for the Tide in 2012, and he will be a major contributor in 2013. (He could be a major contributor in 2012.)
Cooper is going to be a household name before his time at the Capstone is over, and likely a household name long after he leaves.
The fighter pilot from the first slide is starting to become a squadron.
Chris Black joins the ranks alongside Amari Cooper as the headliners of the Tide's 2012 class, at least at the WR position.
Without a doubt, you can see (from the video) the potential for his silhouette to strike fear into opposing defenses. The spring game cannot come soon enough.
The squadron can now officially make a basic formation. (The "V.")
Cyrus Jones is a prospect in the Tide's 2012 recruiting class, and could very well be a monster at the receiver position. (At 5'11" and 185 pounds, he is already built for it.)
With four possible receivers in the 2012 class, the Tide have a lot to look forward to for quite a while. The possible combinations available for deep-route plays are staggering.
Plus, if the opposing secondary sells out to stop the deep ball, Lacy and company will teach them the error of their ways.
We now have a four-wide formation to unleash on the opposition.
Though he is not a recruit, Duron Carter is eligible to take the field for the Crimson Tide in 2012 after a year of watching A.J. McCarron work his on-field magic.
The time is now at hand for Carter to etch his name in Tide lore, and he will not be doing that alone. With a plethora of targets for McCarron to hit, Carter will get his share of receptions.
The Tide faithful are anxious for the spring game, and Carter is no small reason for that.
The five-wide is the package used primarily (not exclusively) when you're attempting a "Hail Mary." The Tide should not have much need for this particular setup, but it's nice to know it's there.
Greg McWilliams/Getty Images
The quarterback is the squadron leader in this scenario. When McCarron stepped onto the field in New Orleans, he joined the ranks of Marcus Outzen, Michael Vick, Sam Bradford and Darron Thomas. (Read the article from cbssports.com here.)
The commonality with those four others is that they were all either freshmen or sophomores in BCS title games. McCarron did the one thing that they all failed to do before him: win the title game.
His play in New Orleans definitely solidified his role as squadron leader.
McCarron did all that as a sophomore and a first-year starter. Now he comes into 2012 with something he was severely lacking in 2011: game (big-game) experience.
For more encouragement, check out how his 2011 stats compare to other SEC quarterbacks. (Don't forget he did all that with no superstar at the receiver position, as well.)
The Offensive coordinator is the squadron commander of the offense, and is expected to put "ordinance" (the football) on "target" (the end zone) at all times. That is his job.
Doug Nussmeier, the former Washington Huskies OC, is the new OC for the Crimson Tide. As that article points out, he was "instrumental in the development of Jake Locker..."
With an already-impressive A.J. McCarron and a top-notch receiving corps to work with, Nussmeier may be the trump card at the OC position.
With his experience from the west coast, he will approach Alabama's offense from "outside the box." Think about what 'Bama has accomplished with a pro-style offense so far.
Nussmeier could bring innovation to that tradition. It's almost scary (for the opposition) to think about what he can make out of the ingredients he has on the field.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
The ingredients we have so far are Amari Cooper, Chris Black, Eddie Williams (?), Cyrus Jones, Duron Carter, and Doug Nussmeier.
Add Nick Saban and Kirby Smart into that mix and you have a recipe for quite possibly the most intimidating total package in recent memory. (Once the defense gets settled, of course.)
With Nick Saban's "I'm not conservative" attitude, Kirby Smart's "End zone? We won't even let you cross the 50" mentality and Doug Nussmeier's "We threw the ball in the Pac-12, so I'm pretty sure that's legal, guys" skill set, the 2012 edition of the Crimson Tide is merely the beginning of an era.
If Nussmeier, Saban and Smart all get on the same page, this is definitely the beginning of an "air raid" era of Tide football. Let's not forget that Trent Richardson was the third-leading receiver on the Tide in 2011 with 29 receptions for 338 yards.
Just because we have running backs doesn't mean they aren't targets. If McCarron is trained and achieves his potential, he has the talent and the tools to make a legitimate run at the 2012 Heisman.
Is this the beginning of an SEC "air raid"? I hope so. If it's going to happen anytime soon, I wouldn't hand-pick a different staff to do it.