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Film Preview: Miami Hurricanes vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, 9/4

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The ‘Canes and Tide face off in Atlanta in a Week One matchup.

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Miami’s Cortez Kennedy, 1990 Sugar Bowl SetNumber: X39239

The Miami Hurricanes and Alabama Crimson Tide will face off on Saturday, September 4th at 3:30pm on ABC. The ‘Canes and Tide haven’t faced each other since the 1993 Sugar Bowl, which was Bama’s first National Title since the 1979 college football season.

Prior to the Sugar in ‘93, the ‘Canes had knocked off Alabama in the 1990 Sugar Bowl to secure Miami’s 3rd national title. Bama has a 14-3 lead over Miami all-time in the series, including a 10-game win streak from 1962-1979.

For the 2021 version of the series, Vegas has the Tide as 18.5 point favorites over The U. The score prediction on OddsShark is approximately 57 to 24 for the neutral site matchup in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.


The Data

Alabama is the preseason favorite to win the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship per a variety of sources. Athlon Magazine, Bill Connelly’s SP+, and Las Vegas bookmakers all have the Tide as their repeat champion.

The SP+ has Bama rated #1 overall, but also #3 on offense and #3 on defense. Nick Saban is the best football coach in college football history. The Tide are replacing six first round NFL Draft picks and a pair of 2nd round picks as well. However, Coach Saban’s teams have reloaded for decades.

Alabama is also replacing their OC Steve Sarkisian. Sark is the new head coach of the Texas Longhorns and The Tide have brought in former Houston Texans and Penn State head football coach Bill O’Brien. O’Brien also served as the OC for Saban’s friend Bill Belichick and the Patriots in 2011.

Bama returns their DC, Pete Golding, and the Strength & Conditioning duo of Matt Rhea and David Ballou. The Crimson Tide are well on their way to repeating as champs in ‘21.


Bama Offense

Alabama, like most of the Power 5, utilizes an 11 personnel offense (one running back, one tight end) as their base grouping. The Tide will come out in all types of pictures (how they line up, regardless of personnel in the game) to keep DC’s guessing as to what they’re going to run.

Under Lane Kiffin, Bama got really RPO and read option heavy. It helped that the Tide had mobile QB’s in Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts and Tua are also both starting QB’s in the NFL. Under Sark, the Tide offense relied more on crossing routes and wide receiver matchups than mobile QB’s.

The Alabama offense was closer to an NFL scheme under Sark. Mac Jones, now of the New England Patriots, was less mobile but had elite accuracy. Sark used mismatches to get his speedy receivers in open space. New OC Bill O’Brien will have Young who poses a ‘best of both worlds’ as a dual threat talent. He can run, but he’s also accurate, and has a strong arm.

Above- Young can move the pocket and throw from different arm slots and angles making him difficult to stop like Pat Mahomes. He can also move the pocket and extend plays via space.

Above- Young steps up in the pocket after play-action and finds his target deep down the numbers. This turns into a touchdown for the offense.

Above- Young is mobile and can move, he just doesn’t have to rely on his legs because of his brain, arm talent and how good Alabama is on offense in ‘21.


Bama Defense

As long as Nick Saban is in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is going to run a 3-4 defense. The Tide have enjoyed great success in Saban’s 3-4, even in years where they’ve had to make some adjustments via personnel. Nick Saban may not love the outcome of his defenses in this modern era but that’s okay. Bama is still one of the best defenses in college football.

Above- The Bama defense does their damn jobs. Align, assign, finish. There’s no confusion on the field. The front and back ends are aligned. Communication is key. Watch how quickly the defense snuffs out this screen. Plays aren’t going to come easy like they do against bad Coastal teams.

Above- Young completes the RPO but two defenders are on the receiver and I think would’ve hit him much harder in a real game. Miami is going to pay for every yard, and every drop. I hope Charleston Rambo has his special gloves on against Bama.


Prediction

Alabama is light years ahead of Miami, and for that matter, almost the entire country outside of the Clemson Tigers at this point. Alabama is recruiting in the top-5, has the best head coach, and the best S&C program in college football. In order to beat the Tide, Miami is going to have to avoid the Twin Thieves: the fear of failure and the fear of judgment.

The ‘Canes players will have to come out and play to win the football game, not play ‘not to lose’ as happens so often against Bama. Alabama will be fast- how do you counter that? By changing snap counts, using misdirection and by having a solid RPO and play-action game. Slow down their linebackers and safeties.

Alabama is replacing a ton of talent while Miami is returning the core of their starting lineup. The ‘Canes need to come out confident, and with an attitude built around winning. Onside kick, fake a punt, go for it on 4th down, and take shots down the field against Saban’s Tide.

Prediction: Alabama by 14.