TideSports College Football Preview


Nearly the entire offensive coaching staff was replaced from a season ago with the lone holdover coming in offensive line coach Brent Key.

The entire defensive coaching staff returns from a last season.

That’s the changed dynamic in the coaches’ meetings. Although most analysis will focus on the new offensive coordinator, three coaches replaced on one side of the ball is unusual.

Gone is offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, wide receivers coach Billy Napier and tight ends coach Mario Cristobal. In are Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator, Mike Locksley as wide receivers coach and Joe Pannunzio as the tight ends coach.

On the other side of the ball, Alabama held onto outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi even in the face of other Power 5 programs offering him defensive coordinator positions. Every other coach is back, too.

UA head coach Nick Saban and the offensive players have been complimentary of Daboll, who came from the NFL, where he served as tight ends coach for the New England Patriots. Out of the college game for nearly two decades, Daboll said the change hasn’t been that radical.

“There’s some time requirements there that you can’t, maybe, meet as much, but, again, the philosophy of the organization and the structure and the detail that Coach Saban provides for us is very similar to the system that I came from,” he said.

“Coaching fundamentals is coaching fundamentals, so whether you’re coaching a 30-year-old man or an 18-year-old young man, a 19-year-old young man, you still got to coach the fundamentals and make sure they do it properly. And those don’t change based on age. So, leverage, hand placement, pad level, route detail, reads, footwork, those are all the same whether you’re coaching in professional or you’re coaching here. Your job as a coach is to show them how to do it and really accept no excuses. Demand they do it the right way and then if they mess it up or it’s not exactly the way you want it, you’ve got to get it fixed.”

As for the defense, it is in safe hands under the guidance of second-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt’s 2016 defense was arguably Alabama’s best of the Saban era.

“…I think he did a fabulous job,” Saban said. “I think statistically, we were better in a lot of categories than even the year before, granted we had a lot of good players, but he got the good players to play well and I think that’s the key.

“I think that the fact that we have all the coaches on defense, the continuity on defense, the understanding, how we coach things, how we do things, it’s probably a benefit. It’s probably a benefit with all the young players that we have and all the players that we have to replace that, hopefully, will enhance the development of those players so that we can get them where they need to be to play effectively this year.”

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.