It was truly a banner year in 2009 for the University of Alabama. The school had its first 14-win season, first BCS National Championship, first win over Texas, and first Heisman Trophy winner.
The team had six All-Americans on the same team, the highest mark in the nation and in school history. The team featured the No. 2 defense in the nation, led by two first-round draft picks and a Butkus Award winner.
The list of accomplishments for last years Crimson Tide is long and distinguished, but still, something was missing. The Heisman drought for the University is over, but there is still one benchmark that has eluded the Crimson Tide for over 100 years.
It is something that most fans don’t even realize the Crimson Tide has never had, but could possibly have this year.
What could a school with 13 national titles, 22 SEC titles, a Heisman winner, 97 first-team All-Americans (44 consensus), 22 Hall of Famers, and one of two schools (Purdue being the other) with three Super Bowl MVP Alums possibly lack?
The answer is a 3,000 yard passer.
That is right—the same school that produced Bart Starr, Joe Namath, and Kenny Stabler has never had a QB wearing crimson throw for 3,000 in a single season. Will this be the year that the Crimson faithful witness its best aerial assault in history, or will the passing game merely be a way to keep defenses honest as in years past?
The answer is the former.
This will be the year that an Alabama QB passes for more than 3,000 yards, barring an unforeseen injury. Greg McElroy is a fifth-year senior who makes minimal mistakes, protects the football, is extremely accurate, and may end up being a Rhodes Scholar.
However, McElroy’s leadership and abilities are only part of the reason that he will pass for more than 3,000 yards this year. Here is a list of the top five reasons Alabama will end the drought of a prolific passing game.
- There is entirely too much talent at the receiver position. As talented as the Alabama running game is, the receiver position has the most explosive play ability. There is the uber-talented Julio Jones who is capable of turning any catch into a touchdown. Marquis Maze has the speed to take it to any team vertically, Hanks is Mr. Surehands, and there is freshman talent and speed aplenty.
- Jim McElwain wants to expand his offense. Like it or not, Jim is soon to be a head coach at another school, and this is his opportunity to show every school in the nation that he can get it done on offense by ground or air.
- Nick Saban wants the passing game to be prolific. Now this in no way means that he wants the passing game to be the primary weapon of the offense, but instead means that he wants his team to be able to score in all phases.
- Recruiting is the driving force and lifeblood of any football program, and most recruits want to be part of a high-scoring offense. If you look at the recruits, Alabama currently has four wide receiver commitments, and they are all watching to see how many times Alabama chucks the ball down field.
- It is the next step in “The Process.” Nick Saban wants his team to dominate in all phases of the game and wants balance. The running game is already among the best in football so the logical conclusion would be that it is time to expand the passing game.
While only time will tell whether or not Greg McElroy will pass for more than 3,000 yards, one thing we do know now is that he is currently is averaging 223.5 ypg (Now, this is not considering that he has only thrown passes in five quarters this year or that he was pulled when the game had been decided).
At this current rate, if Mr. McElroy maintains this average and plays in 14 games this year, he will have 3,139 passing yards by year's end.
If ever there was a year in which all the stars have aligned to allow Alabama to finally have a 3,000-yard passer, this is the year.
With a senior quarterback, a first-round receiver, and an experienced offensive line to block, if Alabama does not reach this milestone this year, it may never pass it in the future.