Scouting Report: Alabama

How did Alabama rise to being the top-ranked team in the country? What are the strong points and weaknesses of the Crimson Tide? We take a look thanks to Scout's Alabama site, which checks in with this early scouting report.

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The inaugural College Football Playoff hit a home run with four of the best names in the game participating. The Rose Bowl has the nouveau riche in Oregon and Florida State, while the Sugar Bowl has the old money bluebloods in Ohio State and Alabama. The Buckeyes and Crimson Tide play in New Orleans on Jan. 1 with the winner advancing to the national championship game Jan. 12 in Dallas.

Here from, the teammate of, is a quick scouting report on Alabama for the fans of Ohio State. The Crimson Tide is 12-1 and won the Southeastern Conference championship with a 7-1 league record and a 42-13 win over Missouri in the SEC Championship Game.

Alabama Offense

Style: The Crimson Tide is a pro-style offense with a normal alignment of a tight end, fullback, tailback, and two wide receivers. The quarterback is ordinarily in spread formation. Bama is quite multiple, though, sometimes using two right ends, sometimes three wide receivers.

The big question going into the season was how Alabama’s offense would operate with a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin. The results were fifth-year senior Blake Sims becoming the Tide’s single-season passing leader with 3,250 yards and Bama’s offense setting a new record of 6,376 yards.

Bama’s modus operandi is to first establish the run with T.J. Yeldon (932 yards, 10 TDs) and Derrick Henry (895 yards, also 10 TDs) doing most of the damage. Sims, a one-time running back, is also capable and has run for 321 yards and six touchdowns.

In the passing game the big man is Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year Amari Cooper, who had an SEC-record 115 receptions for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sims has completed passes to 18 different receivers.

Alabama has a veteran offensive line with Bama backs averaging 5.1 yards per carry and the Tide leading the SEC by allowing only 11 sacks in 13 games.

Strength: The Alabama offense has produced 77 plays (24 rush, 53 pass) of over 20 yards.

Weakness: The Tide has fumbled 18 times this season (losing 12).

Best performance: Florida ranked second in the SEC in defense. Alabama had 42 points, 28 first downs and 672 yards (8.9 yards per play) against the Gators.

Worst performance: Alabama escaped with a 14-13 win on a rainy day at Arkansas as the Bama offense produced only 10 first downs and 53 plays for 227 yards total offense.

Alabama Defense

Style: The Crimson Tide defense is listed as a 3-4 and Bama coach Nick Saban would like nothing better than to use that alignment on a regular basis, but the fact is that Alabama plays most games against offenses with spread aspects and so the defense is almost anything but 3-4.

Alabama will operate primarily with a nickel back, usually replacing a linebacker with an extra safety, but the Tide also uses a dime back in certain situations. Also look for a linebacker to move up giving a four-man front look.

The Tide will use cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers on the occasional blitz but for the most part depends on its front to pressure the passer.

Three years ago, Landon Collins was regarded as the nation’s best safety prospect and he has lived up to that reputation, earning All-America honors this year. Trey DePriest (Springfield, Ohio) is the middle linebacker and leader of the defensive front. Bama does a very good job of using six to nine defensive linemen in the rotation.

Strength: Alabama allowed 410 rushes for 1,153 yards, an average of only 88.7 yards per game and 2.8 yards per rush, and only three rushing touchdowns. Bama held eight opponents to under 100 yards rushing. No individual had 100 yards rushing; in fact, in Saban’s eight years at Alabama, the Tide has allowed only 14 individual 100-yard rushing games.

Weakness: Saban coaches Bama cornerbacks in practice, which has been nothing to brag about. The Tide gave up numerous long pass plays. Opponents completed 249 of 457 passes (54.4 percent) for 2,908 yards (223.7 per game) for 17 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions.

Best performance: Texas A&M has one of the most explosive offensive schemes and outstanding skill position players in college football. Alabama shut out the Aggies, 59-0, allowing only eight first downs, 31 yards rushing, and 141 yards passing.

Worst performance: The Alabama defense saved the worst for last, at least the last regular-season game. Although Bama survived with a 55-44 win, It seemed as though the first team to make a tackle would win. The Tide surrendered 28 first downs, 174 yards rushing and 456 yards passing (630 total yards) to the Tigers. The only good thing for Alabama was that in giving up seven scores in eight red zone chances chances to Auburn, five of those scores were field goals.

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