I know this is one of those seemingly endless things ESPN does to fill bandwidth during a long offseason, but, damn, Alex Scarborough, do you really have to write a tongue bath like this?
Lane Kiffin magic: He loses a Heisman Trophy finalist at receiver, a two-year starter at running back and a record-breaking QB, but does anyone doubt that Lane Kiffin will make it work? He still has a veteran center in Ryan Kelly, a mammoth running back in Derrick Henry, and a promising group of receivers, headlined by ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster. With O.J. Howard at tight end and Mr. Everything Kenyan Drake back at running back/receiver, Kiffin will have plenty of weapons to play with. And when it comes to who starts at quarterback, just trust that it will work out, whether it’s Jake Coker, David Cornwell or another candidate. If Kiffin could turn former scout team QB/wide receiver Blake Sims into a record-setter then he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
One could argue it was Amari Cooper, not Junior, who turned Blake Sims into a record-setter, but setting that aside, when did Kiffin’s offensive magic become a no-brainer? It sure wasn’t there in his waning days at Southern Cal, which managed to coincide with a dwindling talent base due to the NCAA sanctions. And even directing an Alabama offense that wasn’t talent starved, it’s not as if the Tide generated a performance on that side of the ball commensurate with all those vaunted recruiting classes: sixteenth in scoring offense and eighteenth in total offense are certainly well above-average, but how many of the offenses that finished more prolifically than did Junior’s outdo Alabama in talent?
Last season, Amari Cooper wasn’t promising. He was the best wideout in college football and he’s gone. Coker, who couldn’t beat out Sims for the starting QB job last year despite being anointed as a Heisman finalist by much of the media in the preseason, is neck and neck in a fight for the starting job again, so what does that say about who will direct Kiffin’s attack?
It’s not like I’m counting on Alabama’s offense disappearing this season. There’s way too much talent there for that to happen. But pardon me if I wait to see how Albert Einstein… er, Lane Kiffin does directing traffic in 2015. If ‘Bama kicks ass, then maybe we can start talking about giving the Laner the benefit of the doubt.