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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Alabama’s fix for Nick Saban’s dominating offense? He’s shifting blame.

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Alabama isn’t just the No. 1 team in the country, it’s the only team in the country.

This year’s Crimson Tide is averaging 57.3 points per game. Five of Alabama’s first six opponents have scored more than 30 points on the Crimson Tide, all teams that feature inferior talent.

Alabama owns an all-time record of 107-13 against teams in the FBS, yet its average winning margin has only been 15.8 points. Nick Saban and company gave up 31 points to Arkansas State in his team’s first road game of the season. The Tide defended the stadium this weekend and finally slowed down Air Force.

Saban’s obsession with defense began with the 1990 national championship, but he’s never felt this good about his offense, ever. It might be the first time in Saban’s extraordinary career that his team is better offensively than defensively.

So, here’s the newest twist in the Saban Doctrine. He’s shifting responsibility to his offense, pushing for plays designed to keep the opponents off balance. Playmakers such as Damien Harris are getting more attention from the coaching staff, meaning defenses have a hard time pinning their ears back and stalling the Tide’s run game.

It’s all getting a little bit tricker.

This fall, top defensive talent from Boise State, West Virginia, Tennessee, Nevada, North Texas, Utah State, Arizona, Houston, TCU, Michigan State, Washington, South Carolina, Colorado State, South Florida, Kansas State, Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Utah, Oklahoma, Southern California, LSU, West Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Arizona State, North Carolina State, Illinois, Purdue, Alabama and Tennessee is returning to the football field.

In 2016, they signed Ohio State receiver Johnnie Dixon and Florida State wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Of this year’s crop, no player is as well-known as the trio of Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Poyer, Texas cornerback Greedy Williams and Tennessee cornerback Cam Sutton. It’s entirely possible that the Crimson Tide’s 26-7 win over the Trojans was its last against top-50 talent.

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