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Jumbo Package: Is the OC job all Locksed Up?

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The players are on board with Co-OC Mike Locksley taking over the offense.

Maryland v Rutgers Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. Offseasons are seemingly never dull around Tuscaloosa, and this one is shaping up to be a doozy. We got news yesterday that Saban will be replacing his offensive coordinator, who left for the same role with the Buffalo Bills, on top of the defensive coordinator and secondary coach that have already left the building. There seems to be one candidate that has emerged as the players’ favorite, and he already happens to be on staff.

This one seems to make the most sense. Locksley is already on staff and has a rapport with the current players. Locksley served as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach this season.

The players love Locksley, and he was the one who helped Daboll make the transition from the professional ranks in terms of coaching quarterbacks and incorporating read-option concepts.

Saban has not promoted from within to a coordinator role since Kirby Smart ten years ago, but it appears to be possible and even likely that he will do so with both of the coordinator openings. Locksley has plenty of experience, and all of it at the college level. He got his first job as a Power Five position coach in 1997 and his first job as an offensive coordinator in 2005. He is known as a fantastic recruiter with strong ties to the VA/MD/DC area that produced the Kouandjio brothers, Jonathan Allen, Da’Shawn Hand, Trevon Diggs, and Terrell Lewis. Of course, he has also been in Saban’s program for two years now including one on the field, so promoting him wouldn’t require the quarterbacks to learn another personality from scratch.

The downside to Locksley is that he has never been terribly successful as a coordinator. In seven years in the role, his best offense finished only 40th in points per game, and he has had some flat-out terrible offenses that averaged less than 20 and finished outside the top 100. Of course, the talent he had at Illinois and Maryland is a far cry from the juggernaut that he would be leading in Tuscaloosa.

There is another factor at play here:

Saban may be forced into a decision to promote Locksley or lose him, and the players clearly prefer the former.

Neither Jalen Hurts nor Tua Tagovailoa weighed in, but Tua did retweet Damien. If I’m a betting man, Saban rolls with the continuity this time and we end up with two coordinators in Tosh Lupoi and Mike Locksley who are both top notch recruiters, but unlikely to be offered head coach opportunities for a couple of years.

Of course, that could be completely off base. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

That chatter started with the second half against Georgia and continues to build in a Tua Tagovailoa tidal wave of publicity. Much of that publicity has yet another valuable subtext — the huge contribution made by freshmen in the championship game. You couldn’t miss it during the commentary but if you did somehow, rest assured Alabama assistant coaches will be glad to replay it for you (especially if you are a five-star prospect.)

A major talking point for UA rivals — not to call them “negative” so much as “pragmatic” — is that there is so much talent stacked up in Tuscaloosa that you’ll have to wait. Alabama’s counterpunch — Tagovailoa, Najee Harris, Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, Dylan Moses and, by the way, the young man catching the championship-winning pass in the end zone, DeVonta Smith.

Alabama is going to be so hyped going into next season, y’all. The Rat Poison Control Center needs to be on speed dial. As Cecil notes though, it certainly can’t hurt recruiting.

Redshirted

The newcomers who did not appear in game action in 2017:

QB Mac Jones (above)

WR Chadarius Townsend

WR Tyrell Shavers

DB Kyriq McDonald

LB Markail Benton

OL Hunter Brannon

OL Kendall Randolph

DL Phidarian Mathis

PK Joseph Bulovas

Thankfully, McDonald was just dehydrated during the title game. That was a scary moment for a young man who may well have a prominent role in the 2018 secondary. Keep an eye on Mathis and Benton, both of whom should be in contention for the top backup spots at DE and ILB, respectively. Of course, Bulovas will be an interesting watch. Alabama could use a clockwork kicker.

Speaking of kickers...

Sure there’s a special teams coordinator for most college teams. Alabama has two coaches working generally with special teams, neither were kickers. (One works with running backs as well as special teams, the other, tight ends.) But when it comes to practical, technical kicking coaching? None. Zero. These kids have camps in the summer and can phone up and get some guidance from other college kickers and pros. But when it comes to day-in, day-out coaching? For most teams, there is nada.

There is at least one team in college football that does have a kicking coach, however: the Georgia Bulldogs. Kevin Butler, a former member of the Bears and Georgia Bulldogs who’s in the College Football Hall of Fame, is an assistant with the team this year.

Saban sees opposing kicker making huge field goals in championship game, notices a former college kicker is on the staff, hires former college kicker Jeff Banks. The Process is always at work.

The road from 16 to 17 wasn’t ordinary or easy. It included losing a national championship game in between for the first time under Saban, losing starter after starter to injury, losing control of its playoff destiny after losing to its bitter rival.

No. 17 was never inevitable. For the longest time, it seemed impossible. Then it arrived with a bolt of left-handed lightning, and Alabama found it could take a different route to a familiar place.

The program that has everything had never seen anything like it.

It was that kind of night for Georgia because at every spot the Bulldogs thought they might be able to take advantage of an absence, someone stepped up. Granted, some youthful mistakes were made, and some plays simply didn’t work out, but overall there was no dramatic drop-off. No major weakness was found and exploited.

“We had a lot of mental errors, but they have a great offense,” Lewis said. “We just limited the big plays, tried to limit the big plays and make them throw the ball.

“We knew we were the best team. We just had to execute.”

Saban’s first team to start and end the season at #1 had to overcome all kinds of adversity. This one was especially memorable.

“I got to play against Bill Belichick and so many of the best defensive minds, and there is not a brighter defensive mind than Nick Saban. It’s one reason why he was able to get Alabama to the top. They didn’t have the No. 1 recruiting class when he got there. But because of his schemes and the talent, he was able to get them to the top.

“When you talk about defense, Saban is up there with the best in the world and maybe the best of all time as far as defensive minds.”

It’s almost enough to make you cry This is a really nice sentiment from an iconic player.

Last but not least, Crazy Tony got a Twitter.

Something tells me that he will be an interesting follow.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.