Let’s just go ahead and get this part out of the way, Alabama football fans are spoiled. And somehow that has crept into some of the media members as well. What Nick Saban has built in Tuscaloosa is nothing short of astonishing and it has simply put never before seen expectations on the program.
Alabama is just one season removed from winning the SEC championship and playing for the national championship, which seems like an eternity ago. Now the conversations are steadily being had on whether or not the game has passed by Saban and if the Alabama dynasty is officially over.
Some folks were even left scratching their heads after the hiring of Tommy Rees and Kevin Steele as coach Saban’s coordinators. I like to call those folks “casuals.” I say that partly in jest, but also with some veracity.
Saban has a plan and his plan is actually pretty simple and that is why the hires of Rees and Steele make so much sense. So what is coach Saban’s plan exactly? I am glad you asked. His plan is all about returning Alabama to a more physical brand of football where both the offense and the defense complement each other.
Alabama lost some of its physicality as a team once Tua Tagovailoa took over as the starting quarterback and the Tide, rightfully so, began to rework their offensive philosophy to a more spread and finesse style of play and that also affected the Alabama defense.
After a string of elite college quarterbacks, Alabama is now hitting the rest button at the signal caller position, and that has led to coach Saban once again evolving the Alabama brand of football. That is where the additions of coach Rees and Steele begin to take center stage.
Rees, despite being just 31 years old, has an old-school mentality when it comes to leading an offense. Rees believes that a physical rushing attack which sets up the play-action pass is the best way to attack a defense. Rees is a firm believer in multiple sets and motions to help create advantageous matchups.
Steele, while being on the opposite end of the spectrum in age as compared to Rees, runs his defense with a similar throwback mentality. Steele loves to attack the opposing offense with physical, well-timed blitzes from every position. In doing so, Steele creates an advantage for his defense where they dictate the flow of the game instead of the opposing offense.
With both the offense and the defense returning to more of the “Alabama way” in terms of style of play, it helps create a team balance that has been missing over the past couple of seasons.
When each side of the football emphasizes physicality over finesse, it creates an entire team of “blue-collar” players. And if I know anything about Alabama football fans, it’s that there is nothing they appreciate more than a good ole fashioned slobber-knocking football team.
While it may not happen overnight, Tommy Rees and Kevin Steele are a step in that direction for the Tide.