Alabama Football Recruiting: Nick Saban Smart to Make Offense New Focus

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIFebruary 1, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 01:  University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban talks with AJ McCarron #10 during the game against the University of Michigan at Cowboys Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. Alabama defeated Michigan 41-14.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Alabama football may be adopting a new focus, and it's starting to show in Nick Saban's recruiting. While the team has made defense a priority in the past, it looks like there's a new focus on offense for 2013.

According to, eight of the Crimson Tide's 12 4-star commits play on the offensive side of the ball. And of their two 5-star prospects, one is tight end O.J. Howard.

One of the obvious reasons for 'Bama's sudden interest in offense is the soon to be exodus of players.

The Tide will see three starting lineman (Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker) as well as star running back Eddie Lacy enter the NFL draft this spring.

Next season will see the inevitable departure of soon-to-be senior starting quarterback A.J. McCarron.

So it's no wonder that Saban's new focus is on offense. Of his 4- and 5-star commits for 2013, there's one quarterback, one tight end, three running backs, two wide receivers and two linemen.

But the eventual loss of talent isn't the only reason Saban is smart to focus on offense.

The fact is, college football—much like the NFL—is starting to become more focused on offense. Some of the top up-and-coming programs are teams like Oregon and Texas A&M.

And despite its traditional football ways, not even the SEC is excluded from the trend.

Already mentioned was Texas A&M. On the back of their fantastic freshman quarterback, the Aggies are starting to look like the next great SEC team.

They beat Alabama last season, and should be just as dangerous this season. The Aggies put up the second-most total yards (7,261) in the FBS this season.

Another top offensive team in the SEC was Georgia, whose 6,547 total yards of offense ranked 11th in the FBS. They didn't beat Alabama, but came awfully close in the SEC Championship Game.

Looking at more traditional SEC football teams, LSU and Florida ranked outside of the top 75 in terms of total offense last season.

Both teams lost their respective bowl games, and to offenses that ranked within the top 50.

Another shining example of the changing college football landscape is Notre Dame. The Irish made it to the BCS Championship Game on the back of their superior defense.

But they lacked any offensive punch, and were torn apart 42-14 by the more offensively savvy Tide.

None of this is to say Saban has never put an importance on offense. The Tide did rank 19th last season in total yards, mostly due to the emergence of Lacy.

The big difference now in Alabama's recruiting is that Saban is taking not only a heavier focus on offense, but a more balanced one as well.

While the Crimson Tide have lived off a strong running game, they've remained a plug-and-play style of offense.

But if you look at Saban's recent list of commits, he's very focused on passing the ball.

Yes, there are plenty of running backs in the mix, but there are also a plethora of skill player designed to improve the passing game—including a new 4-star quarterback.

Football continues to become an offensive game, and it's more and more apparent that coaches need to adapt.

Players like Johnny Manziel are going to continue to dominate the game, and programs are going to have to find balance.

There's still plenty of room for defense—especially ones as good as Alabama's—to dominate. But you can't win a game without offense, and that's becoming more and more apparent.

So while some people may see Saban as going back on his word, the reality is the coach is just being smart.

Above all else, you can't build a college football dynasty without that.


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