Alabama Football News

Inside offensive coaching moves for Nick Saban at Alabama

Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

We should soon see some finalization on names that Nick Saban intends on hiring onto his coaching staff before spring practice, but it seems as though he has returned to bringing in true teachers of the game.

One thing about hiring young coaches is you have to play the role of micromanagement, and Saban found himself doing it more times than he wanted to in 2018. 

After seeing four offensive assistants take their talents elsewhere, the six-time national champion is fueled by wanting to return to the College Football Playoff and avenge an embarrassing loss to Clemson at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

He intends on making this happen by bringing in coaches that he trusts and having some elite individuals sprinkle in to provide balance.  

RELATED: Holmon Wiggins enters conversation for Alabama at WRs coach

Among the ones interviewed and those expected to come on staff, there was one name that gave yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine a slight worry.

Since refocusing on the situation, all thoughts toward Saban’s moves has everything prepared for another run of championships. 

With the Tide keeping Jeff Banks (tight ends) and Butch Jones (offensive analyst) from the previous staff, listed below are thoughts on the new minds in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  

Steve Sarkisian, OC/QB coach 

It was an initial moment of frustration and disappointment when Alabama fans saw Steve Sarkisian and its Crimson Tide program in the same sentence, but things have cooled off. 

With Saban not landing anyone else at offensive coordinator, the 44-year-old from California will call plays and developed quarterbacks next fall.

While he has more experience as quarterbacks’ coach than coordinator, Sarkisian’s expertise was worth Saban rolling the dice.  

He mentored eight collegiate signal callers to 3,000-yard passing seasons, one NFL quarterback to a 3,000-yard season, and one NFL quarterback to a pair of 4,000-yard seasons under center. 

Under Sarkisian, the Atlanta Falcons finished sixth in the league in total offense and wide receiver Julio Jones collected led the NFL with 1,677 yards receiving on 113 receptions. 

One cannot blame him for what happened in the second meeting between the Tide and the Tigers for a national title in Tampa, Fla., however, Sark has a chance to make a better impression. 

Kyle Flood, OL coach 

Ryan Silverfield of Memphis or returning Jeff Stoutland would have really worked on the offensive line; nevertheless, Kyle Flood may surprise people.  

He comes to Tuscaloosa from the Atlanta Falcons with Sarkisian, coaching a front unit that helped Matt Ryan record two 4,000-yard passing seasons in 2016 and 2017 while producing a pair of 800-yard rushers in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.  

Prior to the NFL, Flood spent 11 years (2005-15) at Rutgers University as offensive line coach, run game coordinator, assistant head coach and head coach. His offensive lines would boast a three-time 1,000-yard running back in Ray Rice (2005-07) and one 2,000-yard campaign from him in the 2007 season.

In 2012, Jawan Jamison would make Flood proud by recording a 1,000-yard season (1,075) of his own with four touchdowns. The duo of Flood and Sark will allow for brainstorming ideas and putting together offensive philosophies that should benefit the Tide. 

Charles Huff, RB coach 

Aside from bringing Sarkisian back, this was the splash hire for Saban. 

Charles Huff was behind the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and All-American running back, Saquon Barkley at Penn State. Huff guided Barkley to three straight 1,000-yard seasons (2015-17) and 43 career rushing touchdowns.

He was selected No. 2 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft to the New York Giants.  

Prior to Mississippi State and Penn State, Huff coached running backs at Western Michigan and Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. He tutored a pair of 500-yard rushers at Western Michigan, while helping C.J. Spiller post 1,244 yards and six scores for the Bills in 2012. 

When discussing the Bulldogs, Huff positioned Kylin Hill and Aries Williams as 500-plus yard rushers last season.

As good as Joe Pannunzio is at getting players to be productive off the field, he did not have the personality that screamed “running backs’ coach.”

Huff brings it to work every day, and the trio of Najee Harris, Brian Robinson and Trey Sanders will enjoy it. 

Holmon Wiggins, WR coach 

Lance Taylor was the more popular move, but Wiggins made Isaiah Ford a 1,000-yard target at Virginia Tech in 2016 and turned Anthony Miller into a star at Memphis. He is used to working with young talent; however, the experience at Alabama will make Wiggins’ job much easier. 

The trio of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs II and DeVonta Smith all return as explosive juniors and ready to rewrite more school records. Jaylen Waddle, a rising sophomore, is prepared to improve upon a stellar freshman campaign.

Other players such as Xavier Williams and Tyrell Shavers are working on becoming more fine-tuned, and having Wiggins around will make a difference.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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