Nussmeier Goes Before The Media

When Jim McElwain left Alabama to become head coach at Colorado State, one of the early names to surface as McElwain's replacement as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide was Doug Nussmeier, who had those titles at Washington. A call to our affiliate in Seattle resulted in an interesting assessment of Nussmeier.

We were told, "Doug Nussmeier is an excellent coach, a really smart guy, and would do a terrific job at Alabama." We were also warned, "He's pleasant to the media, but doesn't give out a lot of information in his interviews."

Our first thought was that Nussmeier would be in hog heaven at Alabama, where coordinators are interviewed no more than twice a year. One of those times is at the beginning of fall camp.

Before Nussmeier met the media Sunday, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked about the fact that Nussmeier had not been the play-caller at Washington, where Steve Sarkisian is the head coach and one of the brilliant offensive minds in football.

Saban dismissed the notion that Nussmeier might be less than an excellent play-caller, pointing out that Nussmeier had called plays at Fresno State before going to Washington. He also called plays in scrimmages, including the A-Day Game, last spring.

"He's a bright guy with a lot of positive energy," Saban said. "He has a lot of good ideas that we've implemented into our offense. The players respond well to him, the players like him. The adjustments we've made in the passing game are going to be beneficial to our offensive team maybe being more explosive and creating more balance. I'm really excited to have him. He's a very good recruiter, he really fits in well with the other coaches on the staff."

Nussmeier was pleasant and loquacious in his first meeting with Alabama reporters. But how much did he reveal?

For instance, a question about the "pistol," an abbreviated spread formation, brought this:

"Obviously, we want to be balanced on offense. The goal is to put our playmakers in the best positions to make plays. We'll use a variety of things, whether it be shifts, motions, formations, whatever it is to create advantages for us, hopefully."

Nothing deceitful, nor insightful.

Nussmeier made it clear that he is very happy to be at Alabama and to be working for Saban.

"This is a special place," he said. "I feel very, very fortunate and blessed to be a part of this program here and The University of Alabama, everything it represents. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, even that far apart from the region, you still know about Alabama football. Even as a young child I remember Alabama football. It speaks for itself. So that part of it, I think that's the first thing you recognize when you get here. This place is different. And it is special. It's a wonderful, wonderful place. So I feel very fortunate."

Nussmeier addressed the issue of a coordinator coming into a new situation.

"That is challenging," he said. "Obviously, the things that we've done here [prior to his arrival[ have been very, very successful. So you try to look at everything we've done, be ojective about what really is good, what maybe we can grow and get better at, and what do I bring that maybe is something a little new that we can add to help the system.

"When you merge things, you try to look at what the strengths of each are, what the weaknesses are, and you try to build off both strengths."

He noted, "The terminology becomes a major issue. How you call things. Not what you call it today, but you have to look at the big picture. When you know you're running this play and you want to call it this and how does it fit within the system. Then when you want to grow and build off that play, how are those terms going to fit to make sense to the players, because everything you do has to be a teaching progression for the players."

Nussmeier said having been a quarterback provides some advantages to coaching the position. He said he and the quarterbacks talk about trust and communication.

"One of the things I tell our quarterbacks is that I can't help them if they are not honest with me. When there is a mistake, in order to correct it we have to have the proper feedback. I think our guys, the QBs we have here, have done a great job as far as that goes."

As a quarterback in college and in the NFL and a coach in both college and the NFL, Nussmeier said "I've been fortunate in my career to be around some really, really good quarterbacks," listing the likes of Jeff Smoker, Drew Stanton, Ryan Hart, Tom Brandstater, Jack Locker, Keith Price, Brooks Bollinger, Gus Frerotte, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. That was in leadup to positive comments regarding current Bama quarterback AJ McCarron's "attitude, his willingness to work."

Nussmeier said, "When you look at his body of work, from where he started at the beginning of last season to where he ended and then where he started spring ball and finished it, and where he started fall camp, I think he continues to get better every day. He works extremely hard. He's very conscientious.

"I'm really excited about what the future holes for him. I think he has a very, very high ceiling."

He said McCarron's back-ups, Phillip Ely and Alec Morris, are "working extremely hard. It's good to have two young players that can create competition for one another."

Nussmeier said an Alabama advantage is the Crimson Tide offensive line. "This is a very, very talented group of guys, as good as I've ever been around in college football. We've got an opportunity to do some really good things with these guys."

He also sees an advantage in working against the Alabama defense in practice.

"I think it's outstanding from an offensive perspective to practice every day against our defense," he said. "You see so many different looks. It exposes you, really, from a mindset that you have to really be looking at every play you're running. You learn really fast some strengths and some weaknesses you have in place – which is really, really good. It's very challenging every day. It's exciting. It's competition. I think anything you do with competition you get better."

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