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September 18, 2012TUSCALOOSA | The spread offense is still all the rage in college football. It has even made it to the University of Alabama, but in a different way.
While many teams across the country are running spread formations, splitting players out from sideline to sideline to create favorable matchups, the Crimson Tide still runs a more traditional pro-style offense. Alabama's spread comes when UA throws the ball, and it's more about spreading the wealth.
Through three games, UA has completed passes to 13 different players, with no receiver catching more than seven of the 40 passes Alabama has completed - and only once has someone caught more than three passes in a game, when running back T.J. Yeldon snagged four balls against Western Kentucky.
What it means is that quarterback AJ McCarron isn't playing favorites, and that he is going through his reads and passing to the open man.
"It's not just one person," said Christion Jones, who has caught six passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns."
"We're going to do everything collectively. Our receiving corps is getting stronger and stronger each week. We're focusing on technique and trying to get timing down with AJ. I think that's a big thing with AJ spreading the ball, because anybody's number can be called at any time.
"It's all about getting the ball to the person who's open and timing on how AJ's going to make his plays and how we're going to run our routes."
The distribution has been steady. McCarron completed 11 passes to eight different ball-catchers against Michigan, a week later UA had 15 completions to seven different receivers against Western Kentucky and last week there were 14 completions to nine different players against Arkansas.
Seven wide receivers are responsible for 27 catches, with the rest going to tight ends, running backs and H-backs. Every skill player has a role in the passing game.
"We're basically the last resort if everything breaks down," running back Eddie Lacy said, "but we have to be sure we're where we're supposed to be so the quarterback has that outlet."
The way McCarron spreads the ball around, defenses can't concentrate on shutting down one receiver to limit Alabama's passing game - and that is by design.
"The ball can go to anybody," Jones said. "The ball can go anywhere, from the outside receiver all the way to the running back. It doesn't really matter. It's all about everybody doing their job, it's everybody being in the right position at the right time."
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.