Jalen Hurt’s will decide this game for Alabama. Without Hurts having success throwing the ball against Clemson, this game will be over quickly. Now the question is how do you attack Clemson with the pass? The Tigers may be the best defense in the nation and even with a loaded backfield like Alabama’s the Tide can’t win unless they can throw the ball down field.
Under new offensive coordinator Brian DaBoll, Alabama has incorporated a lot of option and run-pass option concepts. The great thing about this scheme is creating numbers advantages with tactics — 2-on-1 situations, 3-on-2s, etc., or by simply having your guy beat the defense on a 1-on-1. Option concepts are a great way of defeating any defense, especially when you have a receiver like Calvin Ridley who can win the one-on-one’s.
What will Clemson try to take away?
So in the run-pass-option the Tide have three options. Those options are number one, hand the ball off to any of Bama’s devastating running backs; number two, force Hurts to run; number three, force Hurts to throw. The great thing when you play Bama’s run-pass-option offense is you can choose what you want to take away and what you will allow. Of course I think you want to eliminate options one and two and force option three. Clemson is good enough defensively to force that option.
Clemson will dictate what Alabama can do by how they align against Bama. The Auburn Tigers dictated that Alabama backs Harris, Scarbrough, and Josh Jacobs carry the ball only 18 times. Those 18 carries earned over 122 yards and Auburn, forcing option number three, led to a couple sacks that put Alabama in some second and third in long situations they didn’t want to be in. In the end Auburn dictated how the game would be played and the Tide never could get in a rhythm. Hurts was hit early and often in that game and that is a problem the Tide will have in this game unless they do something differently, because Clemson’s defense is even better than Auburn’s.
The key to the run/pass-option concepts in this game, to me, are that the Tide can’t throw the ball on passing downs. They need to throw the ball on first down, second and medium and third and short. From watching film on the Clemson defense, this is when teams have the most success against them.
This game is going to rest on Jalen Hurt’s ability to have success throwing the ball against Clemson. If he can’t do this it will be a long game for Alabama, but if he can the Tide could pull this game out.
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