'Bama By the Numbers: OFFENSE

CLEMSON - CUTigers.com presents a closer look at 24th-ranked Alabama on the offensive side of the ball. (pictured left: Senior QB John Parker Wilson)

OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 9

2007 RUSHING OFFENSE RANK: 60 (224 yards/game)

2007 PASSING OFFENSE RANK: 59 (149 yards/game)

2007 SCORING OFFENSE RANK: 64 (27 points/game)

2007 TOTAL OFFENSE RANK: 75 (373 yards/game)

Entering year two under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama returns 49 lettermen, including 23 on offense, 23 on defense and three specialists.

Among the 23 returning on offense, nine starters are back, including QB John Parker Wilson, who owns nearly every career passing record for the Crimson Tide with the exception of yards and touchdown passes, and both of those will be smashed this season.

He'll also have the luxury of playing behind four returning starters on the offensive line, including one of the top tackles in the nation in Andre Smith and team captain Antoine Caldwell.

In fact, overall, Alabama's offensive line may be the strength of the entire team.

Outside, the Tide lost three wide receivers from last year's squad, including D.J. Hall, Matt Caddell and Keith Brown. The three combined to catch 129 passes for over 1,800 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

Freshman WR Julio Jones, Scout.com's No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the nation for the class of 2008, will look to step into an immediate starting role as a result. Jones accounted for 52 touchdowns in his last three seasons in high school, and also caught 68 passes for 1,181 yards and 16 scores during his senior year.

Jones offers good size at over 6-feet-4 inches tall and weighing over 215 pounds and will command the attention of Clemson's secondary, especially with the deep ball.

Also expected to make more of significant contribution will be Nikita Stover, who has averaged 14.7 yards per catch in 22 career games.

Last year's leading rusher also returns in Terry Grant. Grant was recruited by Clemson and has a nice burst through the line of scrimmage.

While he was injured through most of his first season, he still managed over 1,000 yards of total offense. Now healthy, even bigger things are expected of him this year, especially with an experienced offensive line.

Freshman Julio Jones was Scout.com's top ranked wide receiver prospect in the class of 2008 (Julio Jones/BamaMag.com)
Both tight ends return in Nick Walker and Travis McCall and the two have almost 50 starts between them as well as 30 combined catches last season.

New offensive coordinator Jim McElwain was brought in from Fresno State this offseason to bring a much more quarterback-friendly style of play to Tuscaloosa. Clemson fans will recognize the dink and dunk approach used by Rob Spence Saturday night in the Georgia Dome as John Parker Wilson will throw his fair share of screens and quick hitches to try and establish a rhythm early on.

In addition the Crimson Tide will use multiple formations and quick passes to allow their playmakers to make plays but the key rests with the quarterback- John Parker Wilson.

With the game on the line a season ago, Wilson suffered through several painful turnovers which cost his team a chance for victory. At the same time, he also is the SEC's current leader in career passing yardage and touchdown passes.

Alabama is hoping with McElwain calling the shots this year that will change as Wilson will know where he's going with the football before the ball is snapped.

With an experienced quarterback like Wilson playing in an offense that is built around quick, short passes, he could be in store for his best season ever.

But it also must also be pointed out this is Wilson's third new offense in as many seasons and there will be somewhat of a learning curve as well.

CUTigers.com Top Stories