Bowl Report: Scouting The Alabama Offense

SHREVEPORT, La. - We know the Alabama offense can cook because they took first in the shrimp category in the Two-Minute Cook-Off at Sunday night's Team Welcome Dinner. We also know they can move the ball. The Crimson Tide averages 341 yards a game with 216 of that via the air. The problem has been a lack of success scoring - specifically scoring in the red zone - averaging just 22.2 points a game.

The question now - with head coach Mike Shula fired and former Tulsa head coach Dave Rader in charge of the offense and calling plays - is how much will Alabama change or improve for the bowl game?

"Not too much. We still have the same game plan and playbook with kind customizing it to Oklahoma State," said Bama sophomore quarterback John Parker Wilson. "There's not that much of a change. Coach Shula and Coach Rader had worked together for a long time and had the same style. We're mixing it up and we have a good game plan that I feel good about and the guys feel good about."

Parker Wilson, who has been effective as a leader, passer, and occasional scrambler was tight lipped about the offense, but center Antoine Caldwell, a 6-4, 288-pounder that has started 24 straight games,was a little more up front.

"We run a lot more trick plays now," said Caldwell of Rader, who has always been known for his imagination. "It is pretty much the base and foundation of a running football team. We are still going to do that. We have an exceptional quarterback that loves to throw the ball around. More trick plays and tempo, we're going to change things up a little. I can say this month of practice has been the most fun since I've been here."

When they run the football it is senior Kenneth Darby, who is third all-time in school history with 3,309 rushing yards. Alabama is 10-2 when Darby tops the 100-yard mark. When passing the most dominant pass catching duo in Alabama history of D.J. Hall and Kenneth Brown come into play as they combined for 100 receptions this season - four more than Adarius Bowman and D'Juan Woods combined for with the Cowboys this season. Hall had seven 100-yard games this season, while Brown was slowed down to only seven receptions for 80 yards the last six games.

"I think they do pretty good," said Parker Wilson. "They've had some time off to rest, but they're good, really good. If they are 100 percent that is that much better for us."

The Bama quarterback and his center say they have respect for what they have seen of the Oklahoma State defense on tape.

"Great group, great group," said Caldwell. "They are fast on the field and are physical. They have good chemistry and play well together and they do somethings that we haven't seen this year."

"They are a good defense and they have gotten much better," said Parker Wilson. "They have good athletes and they make plays. Their front four really stands out to me, but they have good linebackers and secondary too."

Parker Wilson might want to avoid a lot of contact with that front four of the Cowboys. Oklahoma State has 35 sacks this season and Alabama has allowed 26 sacks. The difference is the Crimson Tide lost their backup quarterback Jimmy Barnes to an ACL knee injury in the Tide's first bowl practice and now running back Jimmy Johns, a former high school option quarterback, appears to be the backup if anything happens to Parker Wilson.

"There is no difference," said Parker Wilson. "I'm going to go out there and play the same way I've been playing. I'm not going to change anything and try not to get hurt because I think that is when you are more prone to injury. Let things happen the way they happen."

Parker Wilson was evasive again on the play of the backups. The word is Oklahoma State will see Johns some and that Rader has put a package in the offense for the former option operator. You see the Cowboys aren't the only ones that put in special packages for another quarterback.

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