If Brian Daboll were a doctor, you’d like that he seems remarkably calm considering that his patient’s head has fallen off and he has a heart that might explode at any moment.
That’s been the public diagnosis of the Alabama offense since the Auburn game, at least from a large portion of observers. No one, not even Daboll or Nick Saban, contends that everything looked like the picture of health for the Alabama offense that day. Witnesses have had more than a month to ponder that game, diagnose every conceivable ailment and shake their head gravely in fear that Clemson will finish Alabama’s season.
Daboll, Alabama’s offensive coordinator, didn’t rehash that in his mandatory press conference Thursday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. He clearly didn’t chafe under Nick Saban’s silence policy for coordinators, and subsequently wasn’t the mass media darling that his predecessor – Lane Kiffin, just to make sure that the one person in 20 million who might have forgotten needs a reminder – was for the last three years. Daboll didn’t dwell on details from the Auburn game. He didn’t feel the need to rehash every play or publicly defend every decision. If you closed your eyes, you could hear Saban’s marching orders echoing in Daboll’s voice (without the “a’ights”).
“I’m just really focused on this week,” he said. “We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we weren’t focusing solely on the task at hand with the team that we’re about to play.”
There is no way to read between the lines and determine if that means some radical reconstruction of the offense is ahead, or if (as history suggests), Alabama will try to do what it has been doing all along but will strive to do it better. This will not please everyone.
Of course, the first item in the job description for any Alabama offensive coordinator going back as far as the title has had any meaning, is “Will Not Please Everybody.” Sometimes the fans are displeased, often on an hour-by-hour basis.
Admit it, you’ve probably got a “Run The Ball, Lane” button tucked away somewhere. The same has been true for decades. Mal Moore took all sorts of criticism, partly because there was a certain reluctance (or fear, if you prefer) about criticizing Coach Paul W. Bryant. The great offensive guru Homer Smith pleased the fans (who had no qualms about criticizing Bill Curry) but, in his second stint, couldn’t always. Saban’s list of Alabama coordinators, who have lasted for stints ranging from a week to three years, have had their ups and downs.
The long layoff and the uncharacteristically flat effort against Auburn seem to have turned the heat up to thermonuclear levels, though. In the course of a regular season, there’s always another chance in a few days. That’s not the case now. Daboll himself commented on the long preparation time for Clemson, who he praised as a “great” defense.
“This is the first time I’ve had about a month (to prepare),” he said. “It’s a little different for me coming from the National Football League … so we’ve had a lot of time to go through every play you can go through the whole season and pass things and analyze everything you can analyze. There’s a lot of information.”
Information is only a positive if you make good use of it. That will be key for Alabama on Monday night – improvement, not having a plan that will please everyone. That doesn’t exist. But the last thing anyone wants to see out of Alabama – and Daboll – is the same things they saw the last time out.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.