DKW 86 6,382 Posted August 31, 2006 Share Posted August 31, 2006 http://www.al.com/ncaafootball/lindys/inde....xml&coll=9 Crimson Tide prepares for Hawaii and its pass-happy offenseWednesday, August 30, 2006 Matt Lowe LindysSports.com When the Hawaii Warriors arrive in Tuscaloosa on September 2, expect an air barrage like no other and a coaching philosophy that is almost on the brink of extinction. Hawaii head coach June Jones -- who was 19-29 as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons -- is the only coach in either college or pro football that still employs the run-and-shoot offense. Of course no one will argue about the offense's success rate (476.2 yards per game), but the amount of championships that have been won in this type of system are basically nil, zero, nada. But that doesn't mean Alabama coach Mike Shula is expecting this to be anything less than a battle. "This is the best opponent we've played for an opening game," Shula said. "They are very talented and very fast, very opportunistic. "I think it will be a big test. We talked about their offense all spring and all fall. This is a group that tries to spread you out and throw the ball downfield. They get you all spread out and then they can beat you with screens," Shula said of the Warriors' run-and-shoot offense. "We will have to be able to mix up our defenses. They do a good job of breaking tackles, so we have to be a good tackling football team." Shula believes his team has prepared well for the opener that will also be the unveiling of Alabama's expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium, which now seats 92,138 fans. "We feel good coming out of training camp," Shula said. "We've had a good camp. We feel like we found out more about our football team. We're a young football team, but these guys are eager to make a name for themselves. "We've got to go out there and play well and see what these guys can do." The Hawaii air show may take the pre-game headlines, but the Alabama ground game may take all the single-game records. The Warriors were one of the worst teams in Division IA last season stopping the run allowing almost 200 yards per game. Ouch! With Alabama's steadily improving offensive line and a great offensive backfield featuring Kenneth Darby, Alabama could spell a lot of trouble for the guys from the Pacific. Knowing the Warriors a susceptible to the run should take some pressure off quarterback John Parker Wilson, who will be making his first start with everything riding on his shoulders. Darby recently tweaked his knee on August 21, but is ready to go. The senior running back is the school's seventh all-time leading rusher with 2,489 career yards. He enters the season needing 1,077 yards to break the career record currently held by Shuan Alexander, the 2005 NFL's Most Valuable Player. Darby has rushed for over 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons and in the past three seasons and is attempting to become the first Alabama back with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Defensively, the Alabama secondary will be tested early and often, as in every play, so it must be on its toes at all times. Cornerbacks Ramzee Robinson (senior) and Simeon Castille (junior) have good size and solid cover skills and should be able to hold their own against the smaller Hawaii receivers. Sophomore receivers Ryan Grice-Mullen and Davone Bess are both 5-10, but both caught over 85 passes last year and are perfect run-and-shoot receivers. Strong safety Marcus Carter and free safety Jeffrey Dukes have game experience but will need to play solid games facing this style of play. Hawaii's run-and-shoot philosophy consists of four receivers, one running back, solid pass-blocking lineman, and a quarterback who has a strong, accurate arm. That quarterback for Jones again this season is returning starter Colt Brennan. Brennan, a junior, led the nation in total offense with 4,301 yards passing, 35 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. He is an immensely talented player who could give Alabama fits throwing the football. Considering the Rainbow Warriors were last in Division IA rushing the football last season, stopping Brennan and the passing-attack will be the focus. It will be important for Alabama to apply pressure on Brennan with its' defensive lineman, forcing him into quick decisions. The Tide linebackers will be tested with this style of offense, but they must be patient and stay in there defensive alignments. Over the years, teams have been successful in stopping this offense by employing 3-3-5, 4-1-5, and sometimes 3-2-6 defenses -- which allow the freedom of the defense to sit in zone coverage and then punish the receivers. Expect multiple defensive schemes from defensive coordinator Joe Kines and the defensive staff which won't allow his players to get burned by the deep-ball. The run-and-shoot relies on quick, option routes in which the receiver (usually small, quick and fast) reads the defense and then chooses one of three routes to run. Usually defenses that don't blitz a lot are generally the ones that don't have a problem with this pass-first offense. Sounds like a Bama win to me. It will be a shootout, but you have to wonder how the islanders will adapt to the heat and humidity of the deep south after a 4,322-mile road trip. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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