Nick Saban on the Spread: Offense Limits Players' NFL Options

Mike DockeryCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 25:  Nick Saban the Head Coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide is pictured during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 25, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The spread was not kind to Alabama last season. Alabama faced teams employing the wide-open offense in its final two games of the season, in the SEC Championship Game against Florida and the Sugar Bowl against Utah.

Both times, the defense was not impressive, and more importantly, both times the Tide lost.

Perhaps Alabama head coach Nick Saban is just sick of seeing the spread. Or perhaps he’s just a helpful guy. Either way, Saban recently passed on some advice for coaches who use it.

“I think the spread is difficult to defend, and I think there are some definite benefits to it,” Saban said. “But I also have a 13-page letter in my office from an NFL general manager about we can’t evaluate quarterbacks because they don’t do what we need them in the NFL.”

According to Saban, quarterbacks and offensive linemen who play in the spread in college are at a disadvantage when draft day rolls around.

“So for all these people who play that offense, they’re not really developing quarterbacks that have an opportunity to develop a career as a football player,” Saban said. “In some people’s view. That’s not my view. I’m just telling you I got a letter about that. A long one.

"And also about trying to evaluate offensive linemen who never get in a three-point stance and always play in a two-point stance and all they do is pass block and zone block and run the edge.”

Saban said that Alabama wants to help players be successful after their college careers are over.

“Part of what we do here is try to help our players develop careers,” Saban said. “We want them to develop a career off the field by graduating from school, we want to try to help them to develop a career on the field to see if they can play in the NFL.”

Of course, always recruiting, Saban also said that Alabama would spread the offense out if the right player came along.

“I think if we had the right player, at quarterback, we would incorporate some of that stuff to feature that player,” Saban said. “If we had the right player to do it, we would certainly do it, because I think that would give him the best opportunity to be successful. So we would have that flexibility.”

For thoughts on Alabama’s ability to defend the spread this season, check out Scott Tuttle’s article, “Can Alabama Defend the 'Spread' Offense in '09?

For thoughts on Alabama’s alternative to the spread, see Douglas Webb’s article, “Anti-Spread: Twin Tight Ends Set the Tone for the Crimson Tide's Offense.”


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