Athlon is out with its preseason mag, which means it’s time, once again, for anonymous coaching quotes! (As an aside, here’s my yearly reminder that this stuff hasn’t been nearly as good as it was when Tommy Tuberville was ragging on his peers. If he gets elected to Congress as the next Senator from the Great State of Alabama, I’m looking forward to his press leaks about those schmucks. But I digress.)
“Everything is focused on their offense. D’Andre Swift is gone and so is most of that OL, but the whole key is going to be the quarterback play. Jamie Newman is completely different than what they’ve done in the past, so expect a quarterback run game and RPOs, not as much dropback. Maybe none? How can they adapt that offense to fit his skill set? Will they bend with that? With (offensive coordinator) Todd Monken, they will be different, but how much so depends on what the kid can handle.
“I think defensively they’ll be as good as they always are. They’re great at never making you comfortable. For as athletic as they are, they’re still smart, too, meaning they’re going to throw different coverages at you, maybe more than necessary. You get nothing for free against Kirby Smart.
“The nose tackle (Jordan Davis) is dominant, they’re disciplined and the front and linebackers have looked a little bit more like those Bama-era Kirby defenses every year since he’s been there. Longer and faster, longer and faster. They can drop into coverage, they can play big-boy stuff on the run.
“They have to be that level this year. The pressure is real to win in Atlanta, so you have to lead with defense.
“They certainly went through an identity crisis, and that’s what they have to settle in camp. You could kind of understand their offensive methodology – with those backs they produce, it made sense to stay on the ground, to run pro. The problem wasn’t the talent, it was the predictability.
“Recruiting-wise, it’s them, it’s Alabama, and it’s everyone else. If they fix the offense, they’re national title contenders.”
Other than the “expect a quarterback run game and RPOs, not as much dropback” bit, there’s not really much to argue with there. Especially the “The problem wasn’t the talent, it was the predictability” part. That’s about as nice a way to criticize James Coley without mentioning his name as an anonymous source can.