Alabama's Offense Finally Returns to Spreading the Wealth

Douglas WebbCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 05:  The Alabama Crimson Tide enter the field to face the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

This year celebrates the 75th anniversary of the first awarding of the Heisman Trophy. In that time there have been some great players to win the award, but none of them have worn the jersey of the Crimson Tide.

All the great players who've played for the Crimson Tide in that time frame would tell you they were much more interested in winning games than individual awards.

Alabama fans for sure wouldn't trade any of the Tide's national titles.

Still, with all the great talent in this history of the Crimson Tide program, surely Alabama could have produced at least one player worthy of winning college football's most prestigious individual award?

With the glut of talent on the Tide's championship teams of the '60s and '70s, no one player was able to stay on the field long enough to put together the numbers necessary to win the award.

This year's Alabama team isn't likely to win one either despite having great individual talent. Like the offenses on great teams in the Tide's past, they spread the ball around among too many players for any one individual to gain the gaudy stats necessary to win individual awards.

The Tide has already had four different backs gain over 100 yards on the season. In the passing game, 11 different receivers made catches from two different quarterbacks against North Texas. All in all, 13 different players have caught passes for the Tide this season.

Most of that happened with All-SEC receiver Julio Jones and star tailback Roy Upchurch on the sideline with injuries.

Whether by coincidence or not, the Alabama passing game has developed its versatility in the time since Jones was sidelined. Before that time and headed back to last season, the Alabama passing game had consisted mainly of throws to Jones with the occasional toss to one of Alabama's tight ends.

Whether that's due to quarterbacks that were unwilling to spread the ball around or poor play on the part of receivers other than No. 8 is anyone's best guess.

Jones returns next week in time for the Tide's SEC opener. Teams looking at game film before his injury would have come into the game looking to double-team the big sophomore while putting the rest of their focus on stopping the Tide's running game.

After all, the rest of Alabama's receiving corp had done little up to the point of Jones's injury to warrant legitimate concern by opposing defenses.

That is no longer the case.

Now teams must account for every skill player the Alabama offense puts on the field. Whether it's Mike McCoy, Darius Hanks, or Marquis Maze, Tide quarterback Greg McElroy will find them if given time in the pocket by his offensive line.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect with the development of the Tide's passing game is what happens when opposing defenses can no longer afford to double team a talented weapon like Julio Jones?

Alabama fans can also relish the thought that while opposing teams now have to scheme ways to stop the Tide's passing game, Alabama is still at heart a running team.

Which all bodes well for Tide fans in the future.