Vogler Hints Offense May Have Some Zoom

There are many reasons to think the Alabama offense may be a little more wide open this year than in the past. Returning quality quarterback, outstanding wide receivers, explosive running backs. Don Kausler of the Birmingham News posed the question to tight end Brian Vogler:



Will the 2013 Alabama offense be more Ferrari or more Hummer?

Brian Vogler, a 6-7, 260-pound upcoming junior who figures to be the starting tight end, answered the question with a question: "Which would you rather be?"

The correct answer is "Ferrari."

Vogler expounded. "We'll come in with the Ferrari attitude and on the goal line, we'll bring a Hummer at you," he said.

Vogler didn't give away much when asked if the Alabama offense might surprise opponents this year.

"Everybody's working really hard," he said. "You just have to work on getting timing down. You have to work on being crisp in your routes. We're bringing back everybody except Michael Williams in the receiving core.

"We want to improve on what we did last year. That's our benchmark. Each year in a business, you set a benchmark and you try to do better than that. So that's what we want to do. We want to reach that benchmark, and then exceed it.

"We've got different varieties of things we can do."

Vogler doesn't have a lot in the way of statistics, but he has experience. In his previous two seasons (after a 2010 redshirt year), Vogler has played in 23 games – all 14 in last year's national championship season, and nine in the 2011 national championship year. He has three starts and three career receptions for 27 yards.

With Williams gone after a three-year starting career, eyes are on Vogler at tight end. There are no more important eyes than those of Head Coach Nick Saban.

Saban said, "Brian Vogler's done a really good job. He had a really good spring, good summer. One of the top conditioned guys coming back from summer conditioning, and has really done a nice job over a five-day period of time. Brian has got a really good attitude about things. He is one of the guys that can sustain. You create your own standard of superiority whatever you're trying to do. But the challenge is, can you sustain that? Can you continue to do it with consistency and consistency in performance? THat's one thing that he has -- the mental toughness and maturity to do so it allows you to continue to improve. He's done a really good job so far."

There's a reason Vogler was impressive in summer conditioning work.

"I've always prided myself on having a really hard work ethic," he said, "being the guy that's usually the first person to cross the finish line. I may not be the fastest and I may not be the most athletic, but I do pride myself on hard work and just matching other people's intensity."

That work ethic, he said, is what he brings to the tight end position. And, he said, "I feel like I'm a pretty knowledgeable player that can help out people around me. I like to bring that aspect to the game."

Vogler smiled at the question of whether he'd rather block or catch passes. "Whatever the coaches ask me to do," he said. "Obviously, everybody wants to catch the ball."

Alabama uses tight ends in a variety of ways. Most often there is a traditional tight end on the line of scrimmage right next to a tackle – and frequently doing the same grunt work as a tackle. Bama also uses tight ends at the H-back position, which is close to fullback. Additionally, there are sometimes two right ends on the line of scrimmage, particularly in short yardage and goalline situations. and it is also possible, with the right kind of tight end, to have him split off the line to provide an extra "wide" receiver.

Vogler recognizes that the position evolves depending on personnel.

" It's different guys each year," he said. "When I first came in, you had guys like Preston Dial, who was just in your face 24/7. The guy that's just going to be there rocking your world each play. Next you had Brad Smelley. He's more of a finesse kind of guy who likes to get out in space and do his own thing. Last year, you had Michael Williams, who is primarily known as a blocker, but when he's in the red zone, he'll slip by you and get a touchdown. Each year you have a different mold of a guy. When you watch film on each guy, you try to take something they do and bring it into your game. That's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to pull everything I see out of their talents and try to mix it in my game."

One of the competitors for playing time at tight end is former defensive end LaMichael Fanning, a 6-7, 270-pound junior. Fanning is from Hamilton, Ga., and prepped at Harris County High. Vogler is from Columbus, Ga., and played at Brookstone High School.

"We've known each other since we were about 12," Vogler said. "We played AAU basketball together. He lives five minutes down the road from me, so I'm usually the guy giving him a ride home."

As for Fanning being a tight end, Vogler said, "He's got an unreal motor. It's great to see him really putting himself into learning the offense. You have some guys who get switched from defense to offense and they're like 'Oh man, it's going to take me forever to learn this.' He's asking me questions out there on the field, trying to learn the offense and get on the field. You have to respect a guy with a work ethic like that."

Vogler was asked about other Tide players:

On Jalston Fowler:

"He looks great, just like he left off. He's a hard-hitting guy who's not afraid of anybody. That's the exact same guy you're going to see at the H-back position."

On if Fowler is more Preston Dial or Brad Smelley:

"I'd say he's a mix of both. Preston just really didn't care about his body and threw everything he had in there. Jalston's so strong and he stays so low that he's a powerful guy. Him being a running back gives him that aspect of just running into people non-stop. You have to get used to that. He brings finesse with catching the ball and coming to a quick stop."

On T.J. Yeldon:

"On the field, he's the same way he is around here. He's quiet. He just wants to do his job. Do his job plus more. He wants to help people out. Off the field, he's a funny guy. We hung out a lot in the spring. He's a funny guy. He's joke around with everybody and he's fun to be around."

Funnier that Eddie Lacy?

"Eddie's a different kind of funny. Eddie's a guy that can make you laugh with just one word. T.J. the kind of guy that can make you laugh by, I don't want to say making fun of you, but if you do something wrong, he's going to call you out about it."

On O.J. Howard's progress:

"He's working really hard. He asks me questions if he has any problems or wants to know how to do things. He's one of those guys that comes into work everyday with a really good work ethic and tries to learn."

On Harrison Jones:

"He's doing great. He's come back from the whole back thing in Miami. He's come back really strong, really fast and is doing a really good job."

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