What kind of man does it take to work for Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, the most demanding coaches in professional and collegiate football, respectively?
It takes a man who knows the consequences that come from not doing your job.
First-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll learned those lessons early in life.
“I was raised by some old-school grandparents,” Daboll said Saturday morning in his first press conference at Alabama.
He found that same old-school mindset in professional mentors Belichick and Saban.
“I appreciate the way they do things,” Daboll said. “They make it easy to work for them. There’s a standard, you know the standard. You’ve got to meet it every day. And if you don’t, there’s consequences. I think it’s very fair, demanding, but I like the work environment from those guys.”
Daboll faced multiple questions about his offensive philosophy from rub routes to how he could use the Crimson Tide’s talented running backs. As expected, he offered little in substantive information about what he plans to do. Why would he tip his hand so future opponents could get a jump start on game planning?
Still, Daboll did offer an assessment of sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts, whose development has been on the minds of Alabama fans this offseason.
“We’ve watched every piece of film that he’s had, whether it was last year, in the spring. And our goal, our mantra really, not just for Jalen but all the quarterbacks and the guys on our team, is to improve every single day with their fundamentals. Because it doesn’t matter what play you call, your scheme, it doesn’t really matter until you really perfect your fundamentals. At the end of the day, when it’s crunch time, the team that plays with good fundamentals usually has the best chance to win.
“So he’s really improved his feet, his eyes and where he’s going with the football. But we’re in the third day of training camp and we’ll just keep grinding away trying to string some good ones together. But I appreciate the effort that he’s put in, (he’s) a great young man, really dedicated, smart, tough. So we’ll just keep grinding away with him.”
One thing noticeable about his style comes via his contact feedback to his players. During the media viewing periods, which are only typically the first 10 or so minutes of practice, Daboll has been spotted giving assessments between each repetition. His players, including Hurts, have praised his organization, which they credit in helping in the learning process.
Whether it be an attaboy or some constructive criticism, Daboll’s communication style is a plus thus far.
“You teach them what to do, you show them how to do it and then you accept no excuses,” Daboll said. “That’s how I was raised in this business. So if there’s something not run properly, you fix it. If it’s run the way you want it to run, you give some encouragement.
“Every play is not going to be perfect, so you’ve got to take care of the big things — ball security, knowing where to go with the football, understanding our reads. There’s a million things you can tell a player on every play, there’s a lot of things in football, there’s so many different plays and verbiages, make sure you take care of the big things first, and then you work on the little details as you go. You stay on them, that’s your job as a coach.”
It’s a style that meshes well with Saban, especially the organization part. Saban’s entire program, from top to bottom, is defined by organization. Everyone’s job is defined down to the finest details.
“I think that’s exactly what we want them to do,” Saban said. “We want to be well-organized in our presentations and how we teach the players. I think conceptually that helps players understand and learn more efficiently and effectively. And, of all the people that I’ve ever been with, Bill Belichick probably does this as well as anybody. For Brian to have been in that system and that organization for a long time, I think, is reflected in his organization and in his teaching progressions that he has for the players.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.