It is the week that marks the beginning of fall practice.
For fans, this signifies the beginning of the end of the long dead period between January and September. It is time to take a look at expectations.
For this article, there will be very little use of statistics. On this topic, they are of little use. We are looking ahead into the future—the past can only tell a small part of the story.
The Alabama Crimson Tide returns and effective offense for 2010—a look at statistics would reveal little of the nature of this unit. Even though this was the offense of the national championship team in 2009—the numbers simply do not stack up that impressively.
It was a unit that was carried by one of the most impressive defenses ever to step on a football field in 2009. While loaded with top talent and explosive players at every position—often, it stalled out in the red zone.
While all of the above is true, there is another side of this equation. The 2009 Alabama offense was not designed or asked to carry the team. It was a unit led by a first year quarterback. There simply were not enough receivers that were consistent to allow for an explosive passing attack.
The rushing attack in 2009 was designed to grind up opposing defenses with hard nosed power plays run into the teeth of their strengths. Explosive is not a descriptor here— dominant would be more to the point.
In 2010, the Alabama offense will likely have to carry an extremely inexperienced defensive unit. The consistently accurate field goal kicker that put a band aid on red zone woes in 2009 is graduated and gone.
What is the outlook for this unit?
Gone from the 2009 squad are some very good players. The most important is likely the tight end with an offensive tackle being next. The talent that replaces these players is immense, but the experience is little.
The receiving corps is talented, but has not really experienced a breakout year. Some of this can be attributed to starting a first year quarterback in 2009.
There is no better running back corps in the nation on a unit that could go five deep and see little change in production. This will obviously continue to be the strength of the offense.
The offensive line is one of the least experienced overall in the conference. Is this important? There are three returning starters from the national championship team.
Here is how I see the Alabama offense shaping up in different areas for 2010. These are only opinions as we are contemplating the future. Fans are welcome to comment with their own opinions and many may be more informed.
For 2010, I see an offensive line that will be more effective at run blocking. This is the quickest and simplest form of blocking for an offensive lineman to learn. Every offensive lineman on the Alabama roster was selected for their superior potential in this area.
I see an offensive line that will be less effective at pass protection. Pass protection is more of a long term skill that is improved over time for most linemen. This is also a skill that requires quickness and most of the players on the Alabama roster were not recruited with this particular physical asset in mind.
Receivers are the backbone of any passing attack. While not as important in the rushing attack in the Alabama offense as some, they are still important for the success of the rushing attack. This unit is better at this than any other aspect of their game.
Dropped passes and lack of separation were problems in 2009. With a year of experience, this should be an improved unit. If this is the case, the red zone offense will improve and make the loss of a fine kicker, less of a blow.
The quarterback position will improve in 2010. This is a given and was the case as the 2009 season progressed. This will still be the position of a game manager, but there should be more confidence in the passing game as well.
For 2010, I see more of 2009 with improvement in execution in the rushing attack. The combination of less dropped passes and more ability to separate should improve passing statistics.
Red zone offense will still be a problem, although not to the extent of 2009. The new kicker will cover this problem well, even though he is not likely to exceed the performance of his predecessor this year.
The most important development for the offense for fans to watch this fall—the kick and punt returner. The Alabama offense was the beneficiary of superb field position in every game in 2009. This will need to continue in 2010 for the unit to improve production on the score board.
These are my opinions, what are yours?