Offense also among top in SEC

Offense+also+among+top+in+SEC

Margo Smith

Trent Richardson stretches out across the goal line to score a touchdown in the Tide’s 38-10 victory against Florida. /CW | Margo Smith

Laura Owens

Over the past couple of weeks, the talk about Alabama’s football team has been focused primarily on the defense. While the Crimson Tide’s defense has been performing at a level to match the 2009 defense, on the other side of the ball, the offense has also been playing at a high level.

Nationally, Alabama is ranked No. 18 in scoring offense, averaging 38.4 points per game, with 24 touchdowns and eight field goals this season. In the Southeastern Conference, Alabama is second in points per game only behind Arkansas, which has 39.4. The Tide is right in front of LSU, who averages 38 points per game.

Each aspect of the offense has gotten better as the season has progressed. The biggest question was if quarterback. AJ McCarron, who has completed 63 percent of his throws, has emerged as an offensive leader.

“He continues to impress me the way he goes into these environments,” said center William Vlachos. “That was a really good defense we played, and he continues to stay levelheaded and poised. He keeps doing it. We might not be completing 70-yard passes all over the field, but I think the job he’s doing is outstanding.”

Vlachos said a lot of McCarron’s confidence and fearlessness comes from the way he prepares for each game.

“When you prepare the way he does and the way a lot of us do, you’re really confident on gameday with whatever they’re going to come out with,” he said. “You’re ready for the noise, the defensive shifts, the personnel, whatever.”

Always ready to go in the backfield is Trent Richardson. So far in 2011, he’s averaged 124 yards a game and has 10 touchdowns. He averages 6.5 yards per carry and has amassed 622 yards in the first five games.

With such big numbers so far in the season, Richardson’s name has been tossed around as a Heisman trophy candidate.

“I try not to buy into [the hype] and just stay focused,” Richardson said. “I take one game at a time and try to make sure I’m doing everything I can to get better. Coach Saban always says whether we win or not, ‘What can you do to get better?’ It’s one thing you have to put in the back of your head. ‘What can I work on? Is it my vision or breaking tackles or my speed?’”

But what is a good running back without a good offensive line to block up front? Much like the defense is being compared to that of 2009, Vlachos said this year’s offensive line is comparable to the 2009 one in terms of how they mesh together.

“You know without having to say it what the guy next to you is thinking,” he said. “If there’s a shift, you don’t have to re-identify something and make a different call; they just kind of know this is the angle I’m going to take, and this is the angle he’s going to take.”

In the receiving area of the game, there are 12 different people listed as having a reception.

“We’ve got a lot of talented guys, and we don’t necessarily have Julio [Jones] out there taking all the attention,” said tight end Brad Smelley. “That’s good and bad. We’d love to have Julio, but we’ve got a lot of talented guys that [McCarron] can spread the ball out to.”

Smelley and Michael Williams, the two starting tight ends, have combined for 17 receptions, 216 yards and two touchdowns.

“AJ usually finds us when we’re open, and it’s up to us to make plays,” Smelley said. “So far, we’ve been doing that, and we hope to continue getting looks and making plays for the offense.”