5 Alabama Players Who Should Be Thrilled Lane Kiffin Is Offensive Coordinator

Marc Torrence@marctorrenceAlabama Lead WriterJanuary 11, 2014

5 Alabama Players Who Should Be Thrilled Lane Kiffin Is Offensive Coordinator

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    Alabama fans aren’t all exactly on board with the Crimson Tide’s decision to hire Lane Kiffin as the team’s offensive coordinator. An al.com poll showed less than half of Alabama are fully behind the hire.

    There’s no doubting, though, that Kiffin will have a bevy of weapons at his disposal when he gets to Tuscaloosa.

    One of the criticisms from former offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was his inability to get key playmakers the ball.

    For that reason, here are five players who should be thrilled to have Kiffin as their coordinator.

    All statistics come from cfbstats.com and sports-reference.com for pre-2007 stats.

Derrick Henry

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    The 6’3”, 238-pound freshman who set numerous national high school rushing records didn’t see meaningful carries until the final game of the season against Oklahoma.

    In the Sugar Bowl, Henry carried the ball eight times for 100 yards and a touchdown and caught a screen that he took 61 yards for a score.

    Before that game, he had just 282 yards and two touchdowns.

    While Yeldon is still the No. 1 running back, Henry should still have a prominent role in the offense. When Kiffin was calling the plays at USC in 2005, Lendale White, who has a very similar running style to Henry, rushed for 1,302 yards behind then-Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.

Amari Cooper

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    While Cooper enjoyed a solid sophomore year, posting 736 yards and four touchdowns, it was a step back from his stellar freshman year where he had 999 yards and 11 scores.

    Cooper’s regression wasn’t a byproduct of play-calling. He had various nagging foot and lower body injuries for much of the year.

    But Kiffin has a good track record of letting his top receivers shine.

    In that 2005 season, Dwayne Jarrett put up 1,274 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 2012, playing with Matt Barkley, Marquise Lee racked up 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.

    When Cooper is back and healthy for the 2014 season, even with a new quarterback, he shouldn’t be worried about not getting enough touches for what should be his third and final season.

O.J. Howard

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    Along with Henry, tight end O.J. Howard was one that many felt was underutilized in 2013. The 6’6”, 237-pound tight end from Prattville, Ala.—a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses—caught just 14 passes all year for 269 yards and two touchdowns.

    His most impressive play was on a short crossing route against LSU in which he outran the secondary for a long score. It showed off the mix of size and speed that give him such high potential.

    He is sure to factor into next year’s offense in a big way.

Alec Morris

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    A presumed front-runner for the 2014 quarterback job, Morris barely saw the field in 2013, even in mop-up duty, after redshirting in 2012.

    Blake Sims saw all but a handful of snaps when games were out of hand this season, leaving Morris on the sideline.

    Morris, a more pro-style passer, was considered to be a more long-term option over Sims, who makes up for some passing deficiencies with his legs.

    If he did indeed fall behind in the race, he should get a clean slate, at least in Kiffin’s eyes.

Whoever Wins the Quarterback Job

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    Speaking of the quarterback battle, Kiffin won’t have a bigger job than helping select the next Tide signal-caller.

    Whoever does get the nod will have a position coach (Kiffin will also coach quarterbacks) who has a track record of managing stars at the position.

    Matt Leinart threw for 3,322 and 33 touchdowns and won the Heisman Trophy in 2004 with Kiffin serving as USC’s passing game coordinator. The next season, with Kiffin as his offensive coordinator, he put up 3,815 and 28 scores.

    At Tennessee, Kiffin started Jonathan Crompton who threw for 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.

    Kiffin will have a bevy of talent to choose from, and the winner of the job will be in good hands.