Rader revealing little

When asked at Monday's press conference about the kind of offense they intend to run, offensive coordinator Dave Rader was stone-faced. <br><br>"I think Coach (Mike Shula) likes to be balanced," was about all Rader would offer.

"Every coach is going to tell you '50-50,' then they are going to tell you 'whatever gets you wins.' I don't have a clue what we're going to do best."

Monday Coach Shula said Brodie Croyle had a "strong arm," was "accurate" and "moved well in the pocket." (Barry Fikes photo)

The task facing him of building an offensive playbook without the benefit of spring practice is a daunting one. During spring, a new coaching staff is able to find their playmakers and install their schemes without the pressure of preparing for the season starting in less than a month.

The offensive brain trust of head coach Mike Shula and offensive coordinator Dave Rader will begin the phase of identifying the playmakers in their midst with the start of camp on Tuesday.

With the new coaching staff, all the incumbent starters will need to prove themselves again, but for the backups and incoming freshmen, this will give them a golden opportunity to compete for playing time.

"Everybody tomorrow morning will meet at eight o'clock and be presented the offense," Rader said. "This is the one year that the freshman can learn at the same pace as the varsity."

Fortunately for Shula and Rader, the core components of the offensive drive train are well tested and ready for action. With only 25 days remaining until the South Florida game, the time for installing even a basic scheme is limited. The veteran nature of the offensive tools these men will have to work with will assist in this effort.

Returning players like pre-season All-American Wesley Britt give the Tide coaches a solid foundation on the offensive line.

"We are in a fine line now between preparing this team to play USF and preparing this team to have a broad cross section we can learn together," Rader said. "We're going to have to present (the offense) in an urgent way, but we'll have to separate between that which is important and that which is urgent.

"It just can't be in a hurry."

Shula made immediate mention of the veteran group returning on the offensive line that will give him much flexibility in determining a scheme. After spending two seasons under the run-oriented, power football schemes of Franchione, the line spent this spring working in finesse-oriented pass blocking.

With a shared knowledge of both systems, Shula expects this group will be the most adaptable on the offense.

"They look to be a group where we will build our team," Rader said. "Just watching them, they seem to be a real good group that comes off the ball and impressive with their pass protection. They look to be a good unit."

At quarterback, a stronger and more experienced Brodie Croyle will be handed the reins to the offense after splitting time with starter Tyler Watts last season. In his first season, Croyle threw for 1,046 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions.

"He seems to have the tools. He has tools and passion and that could take you a long way," Rader said. "Judging from the video tape he has a strong enough arm and his teammates seem to respect him."

Senior Shaud Williams leads a talented stable of running backs. (UA photo)

Rader indicated that the starting spot will be open to competition, especially after the good spring enjoyed by backup Spencer Pennington. Athletic and strong-armed redshirt freshman Brandon Avalos will also be in the hunt as well.

"There will be competition at the one spot as well," Rader said. "They (the backup quarterbacks) are bright and they appear to be hungry. I'm anxious to work with them. "

In the backfield, the offensive brain trust will have several options to choose from in the two-back sets in their schemes. Senior Shaud Williams, junior Ray Hudson and redshirt freshman Ken Darby give the Tide a trio of cat-quick, pass catching backs that will make it hard to leave them off the field with their multiple talents.

Williams is the complete package, able to catch passes, run both elusively and with power. And for his size, he is an able and willing blocker. Hudson made considerable strides in the off-season while Darby had a standout spring and amazed observers with this shiftiness and excellent vision.

Greg McLain will return at fullback after a dalliance under the Price regime at tight end.

Bama's leading receiver last season, Triandos Luke is one of six senior wideouts. (UA photo)

At the wide receiver position, the Tide is stocked with veteran players. While seniors Triandos Luke and Dre Fulgham are the marquee talents, the return of AC Carter for his final season and the emergence of Zach Fletcher as a big, physical deep threat make this a strong unit. In fact, Shula indicated that if a four-wide receiver set were his most productive formation, he would most definitely utilize the talents of this veteran group.

Rader also mentioned that the schemes and terms of the past regimes have been consigned to history.

"This is what we know so we're going to present it this way," Rader said. "You guys (the offense) kind of hit the delete button and open up a new page."


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