Nick Saban discusses offense, quarterbacks in first press conference of the spring

Matthew Speakman

This offseason, Alabama had an unexpected change when newly-hired offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian elected to move on to the Atlanta Falcons after less than a month on the job. WIth the change, many fans wondered if Alabama’s offense would revert back from a spread to a pro-style system.

Nick Saban said that the hiring of new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will not affect how Alabama’s offense is run in the future.

“We’re going to be more conservative now on ball-control offense, where did that come from?” Saban said. “I never said that, nobody in this building ever said that, so where did you come up with that? Just had a dream about it or what?”

Daboll’s experience as an offensive coordinator comes mostly from the NFL. He served as the OC for the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Kansas Chiefs before moving to the New England Patriots as a tight ends coach. Before these stints, Daboll worked on multiple NFL team’s staffs, serving as a position coach.

“Brian’s done a really good job,” Saban said. “He worked really hard with the coaches that we have to make some changes in the offense, but also try to keep the things that we do well, things that Jalen can do well and maybe that our young quarterbacks can do well, which is going to be important for us.”

One of the challenges Daboll has ahead of him will be helping returning starting quarterback Jalen Hurts continue his development. The 2016 Offensive SEC Player of the Year passed for 2780 yards and 23 touchdowns in his freshman season.

Hurts is Alabama’s first returning starter at the position since AJ McCarron came back for his senior season in 2013.

“I think that because we do have a starting quarterback coming back, it’s easier for us to self-assess what we need to do for him, with him to help him, to coach him so that he can develop in areas that would be helpful to him becoming even more of a complete player, mostly in the passing game,” Saban said. “…If he could do that and be sort of a dual-threat guy, I think it would be really, really difficult for defenses to defend him.”

Aside from developing Hurts, Alabama welcomes two new freshman quarterbacks for the upcoming season. With Hurts’ job locked down for the fall, both Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones will have to learn to become backup quarterbacks, and will need to be there in case Hurts gets injured.

“They’re going to have to grow into being adequate backups by the fall,” Saban said. “This is the least amount of experience we’ve ever had at quarterback, regardless of having a starter back. But I like all the guys, I like their attitude and I think they all three have a lot of potential to really be good players.”

As Alabama’s spring practices continue, the team will see how both young quarterbacks develop behind Hurts. Saban said the lack of experience is something that is very new to the program.

“Well, we have one year of experience, all of our quarterbacks combined,” Saban said. “So that’s more of a dynamic than having the starting quarterback back.”