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October 7, 2013

Passing game sets up the run

As the University of Alabama continues to search for a rhythm on offense an interesting trend is developing early in games.

Long known as a power rushing team that used its dominating run game to wear opponents down and its play action to help fuel the passing game, the Crimson Tide this season is throwing the ball to help set up the run.

Through the first five games, UA has thrown the ball 12 more times in the than it has run it in the first quarter. In 2012, Alabama had run the ball seven more times than it has passed it in the first quarter.

In four of the five games, the offense has thrown the ball more in the first quarter than run it.

While those aren't staggering differences and the goal is always balance between the run and the pass, it does key in on the strength of the Crimson Tide offense: Alabama's passing game.

"I think you always want to play to your strengths," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I do think it's really important to have balance in what you do on offense. I think it's something we've continued to try to develop with our team. I think that if you don't have that, I can't really say we're a pass to run or a run to pass. I'm not really sure that I could ever say that, regardless of the team we have.

"The goal is always to have good balance so that the other team has to respect both things, so you can take advantage of if they're playing a run defense and they've got them all up there and you can take advantage of that. If they're playing a lot of split safeties and don't have enough guys in the box, you can take advantage of that. Most people play us to stop the run. I think that's why some of the passes have been available to us so far this year. We've got to continue to improve in both areas, actually, for us to kind of have the offense and production, especially in explosive plays running and passing that we'd like to have as a team."

As Saban correctly pointed out, opposing defenses' main goal is and always has been to stop UA's overpowering run. The difference this year is that senior quarterback has complete control over the offense and has the trust of the coaching staff to make run-pass calls.

I have an option of, if I don't think we're good at run option this way I can change it or if they play a certain defense, throw the ball," McCarron said. "It usually gives me a lot of freedom."


Reach Aaron Suttles at [email protected] or

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