Surely, you’ve heard about Alabama’s top-ranked defense, about the Crimson Tide’s fearsome front seven, about their 10 defensive touchdowns and their NFL prospects at seemingly every position.
So it can be easy to forget that Alabama also has an offense, one that seems to play a supporting role behind its defense but has still assembled an impressive statistical profile this season with freshman Jalen Hurts at quarterback and a trio of running backs filling the void left by 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry.
“What they do well is really simple, but they do it well,” UW linebacker Keishawn Bierria said. “And other than that, they’ve got a lot of great athletes and a great coaching staff.”
The Crimson Tide (13-0) will play the Huskies (12-1) in a College Football Playoff semifinal on Dec. 31 in Atlanta.
The Alabama offensive attack starts with Hurts, who won the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year award after winning the starting quarterback job as a true freshman.
Hurts, a 6-foot-2, 209-pound native of Channelview, Texas, came to Alabama as a coveted, four-star recruit, and this season has completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,592 yards and 22 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. Alabama ranks 26th nationally in passing efficiency and 35th in yards per pass attempt.
Hurts’ running ability is probably more difficult to defend. He has rushed for 841 yards and 12 touchdowns, a dynamic threat in offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s scheme.
“He’s a great athlete. He throws a lot of good short balls,” Bierria said. “That’s what he’s very comfortable with, and he can make plays with his feet. That’s the most important thing he can do. That just goes to him being a great athlete.”
ArDarius Stewart, a junior and a first-team All-SEC selection, leads the Tide with 852 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Alabama did not replace Henry with a single back. The Crimson Tide instead has four players who have rushed for 539 yards or more — including Hurts — and ranks eighth nationally in yards per rush with an average of 5.74.
Damien Harris, a 5-foot-11, 214-pound sophomore, leads Alabama with 986 yards rushing on 131 carries, an impressive average of 7.5 yards per rush. True freshman Josh Jacobs (548 yards, four touchdowns) and 6-2, 228-pound sophomore Bo Scarbrough (539 yards, seven touchdowns) have been effective, too.
They run behind an offensive line that features five players 6-foot-4 or taller. Four of them weigh 304 pounds or more. One is a senior. Two are juniors. Right tackle Jonah Williams, a former teammate of UW quarterback Jake Browning at Folsom High School in Northern California, is a true freshman … and a freshman All-American.
“They’re huge. They’re big guys,” Bierria said. “I feel like throughout the year, we’ve faced a lot of big linemen. But across the board, every position, they’re pretty stout and pretty big, so we’ve just got to focus on our fundamentals.”
Said UW defensive lineman Vita Vea: “They’re going to be the best O-line we’ve faced all year.”