Steve Sarkisian is picking up where he left off with Alabama and Alabama’s quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. They’re just at two different locations from two different times.
The Crimson Tide’s new offensive coordinator has been in this exact role before. Sarkisian took over play-calling responsibilities for Alabama in the 2017 national championship game. Tagovailoa wasn’t a part of the team at that point, but he and Sarkisian had a prior relationship that made this not-so-new hire a welcomed one.
“It was really good,” Tagovailoa said. “He offered me while he was USC, and USC was my dream school, too. So, I will forever be grateful for that.
“But just the person he is. He’s a good guy. He is a relationship person in the quarterback room with not only me but everyone in there. It’s a really easy learning environment.”
In between his Alabama stints, Sarkisian was the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator for two seasons. He helped the Falcons finish 2018 ranked fourth in NFL passing yards (4,653), sixth in total yards (6,226) and 10th in scoring (25.9 points per game).
Alabama also closed out last year third in those same NCAA categories: passing yards (4,854), total yards (7,830) and scoring (45.6 points per game).
“If Sark’s got things that he thinks are going to be beneficial and fit in the things that we’re doing, then we’ll implement some of those things,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He’s got great knowledge and experience, and the biggest thing is he’s well-organized and he’s got good relationships with the players and he’s a good teacher.”
In addition to coordinator, Sarkisian is the quarterbacks coach. Alabama once again combined the two responsibilities after splitting them up last year between Mike Locksley (OC) and Dan Enos (QB), which wasn’t the norm.
Tagovailoa think this is better for a coordinator.
“I’d say that helps because they’re not going elsewhere to hear information,” Tagovailoa said. “… They’re just hearing it directly from the quarterbacks, and the relationship between your quarterback and your OC is definitely something bigger.”
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Sarkisian is technically the Crimson Tide’s fourth offensive coordinator in as many years, dating back to late in the 2016 season when he filled the void Lane Kiffin left behind. The series went Kiffin, Sarkisian, Brian Daboll, Locksley and now back to Sarkisian.
Alabama has seven new assistant coaches this season, including five on offense.
“There’s always different systems between coaches,” UA wide receiver Jerry Jeudy said. “But it’s a good thing to have a new coach, so you can learn something new. It’s all about learning something new.”
Sounds like offensively it’s going to be a mixture of old and new for the 2019 Crimson Tide, much like the connection between Sarkisian and Alabama.
“We have implemented a good amount of things that Sark likes to run and he has in the past,” Tagovailoa said. “But we still have a good amount of the things that we had last year. So, it’s not too much of a learning curve.”