University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who used to rail frequently about the use of run-pass options by college offenses, has been less vociferous about them in recent years.
When asked on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference to comment on Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald’s observation this week that RPOs are “the purest form of communism,” Saban was milder — but still wary — about the increased use of such plays. “
“Well, I think they’re very, very common,” Saban said on the teleconference. “We’ll face every form of RPOs that there are in the history of ball this week against Ole Miss. We’ve had a lot of success ourselves running them.”
Alabama has incorporated RPOs into its offense in the past two seasons, and used them with either quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts, at times. Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu is also effective at RPO plays due to his ability to run or throw
”They do create tremendous run-pass conflicts for defensive players. But as long as we control the linemen downfield, I think it’s very, very difficult for the defensive players. But it’s also a league play, you know, the way that if they’re running, the back guy’s getting downfield. So, I think there was a time a few years ago when it was a little unfair when guys were seven yards downfield. But I think they’ve done a much better job of controlling that.”
The RPO issue is nothing new for Saban. In Ole Miss’ 2015 win over Alabama, the Rebels scored a crucial 73-yard touchdown on a pop pass from Chad Kelley to Cody Core. Alabama later submitted the play to the SEC office for review, noting that replay showed at least one Ole Miss lineman, tackle Jordan Sims, was at least five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.