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Why Kalen DeBoer’s offensive system will work in the SEC?

Gary Cosby Jr. - Tuscaloosa News/ USA Today Sports

Alabama fans were use to its football program being solely about defense for a long time under Nick Saban.

The Southeastern Conference was based on defense and running backs in the mid-2000s. 

RELATED: Alabama wide receiver explains why the hunger is back for the Crimson Tide in the fall

Athletic quarterbacks such as Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel changed the narrative.

It forced recruiting to be different on offense and defense in the SEC, especially for Saban. He had to bring in quicker linebackers and defensive linemen while hiring Lane Kiffin to upgrade the Crimson Tide’s offense to be more modern.

College football has become more of an offensive game now, and the Tide made the right choice of bringing in an offensive mind as Saban’s successor. 

Kalen DeBoer is in the SEC for the first time in his coaching career. The offense he learned from coaches like Jeff Tedford propelled him to win three NAIA national championships (2006, 2008, 2009) at Sioux Falls and elevate Fresno State and Washington. He took over a Washington team that was 4-8 in 2021 and turned it into a Pac-12 Champion and a College Football Playoff team two years later. His system produced twelve 40-plus point games in two seasons, including six in 2023. He took down one of the best offensive minds joining the SEC in Texas’ Steve Sarkisian, 37-31, in a CFP Semifinal matchup. DeBoer also beat one of the best defensive minds in the sport, Dan Lanning, who learned under Saban at Alabama and was on the Crimson Tide’s 2015 CFP National Championship team as a graduate assistant. Lanning enters his third year as Oregon’s head coach.

His success against Sarkisian and Lanning makes DeBoer’s offense potent in the SEC.

The things he will be able to accomplish in pre-snap reads, shifts, and motions to create favorable matchups for his players is huge.

Washington ranked No. 1 in the nation last year for most shift, motions, and movement in pre-snap situations.

RELATED: Watch: Does Kalen DeBoer win his first national championship quicker than Saban as new Alabama head coach?

Michael Penix became a two-time 4,000-plus yard passer and got drafted No. 8 overall to the Atlanta Falcons.

DeBoer sees the same ability in Jalen Milroe.

Washington had three receivers selected in this recent draft, including Rome Odunze in the first round to the Chicago Bears. DeBoer has weapons such as Kobe Prentice, Kendrick Law, Germie Bernard, Emmanuel Henderson Jr., Caleb Odom, Ryan Williams, and others that can become first-rounders as of next year’s draft.

Washington even had a balanced rushing attack with DeBoer as Dillon Johnson totaled 1,195 yard rushing and 16 touchdowns.

Alabama has Justice Haynes, Jam Miller, and Richard Young in its backfield. All three are more capable of being 1,000-plus yard rushers in the SEC. The Tide should have a leaner offensive line to make DeBoer’s system deadly for opposing defenses.

His style will bring creativity and keep opponents guessing. 

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

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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