After that championship game, it’s never too early to start looking ahead to 2019. Despite the ending, Alabama’s offense had an incredible run in 2018. They set numerous school records, including yards per game (522), yards per play (7.7) and points per game (45.6).
The good news? Most of that production came from freshmen and sophomores. Alabama gained 7,830 yards; 4,878 yards came from underclassmen, or 62.3%. If you want to take out Mac Jones’ -8 rushing yards, that bumps up to 62.4%.
The second leading rusher and four of the top five pass-catchers all return (barring some unforeseen transfer).
- Najee Harris: 783 yards (#2 on the team)
- Brian Robinson: 272 yards
- Tua Tagovailoa: 190 yards
- Jerome Ford: 37 yards
- Mac Jones: -8 yards
These players accounted for 11 of the 33 rushing touchdowns.
- Jerry Jeudy: 1,315 yards (#1)
- Jaylen Waddle: 848 yards (#2)
- Henry Ruggs: 741 yards (#3)
- DeVonta Smith: 693 yards (#5)
- Najee Harris: 7 yards
These players accounted for 38 of the 52 receiving touchdowns.
If Irv Smith (710 receiving yards) returns for his senior season, the percentage jumps to 71.4%. If Josh Jacobs (640 rushing yards, 247 receiving yards) returns as well, it goes to 82.3%. Both players could absolutely leave for the NFL draft, but it doesn’t hurt to look at the numbers.
And, of course, Tua Tagovailoa will return with a year of starting and another offseason under his belt. The offensive line will also return at least three players who have started games in Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills, and Deonte Brown (unless his suspension turns out to be more serious). If Matt Womack doesn’t transfer, that would make four.