Jackie Sherrill: Bear Bryant could adjust to tempo offenses, also talks Nick Saban

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma

Former Texas A&M and Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill joined the Tim Brando Show this morning to talk tempo offenses, Nick Saban and Bear Bryant, among other items.

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When asked, Sherrill said he wouldn’t hesitate to say Bear Bryant could adapt to tempo offenses, when discussing the NCAA’s 10-second proposal with respect to one of its biggest supports, Nick Saban. CoachingSearch.com had Sherrill’s quotes.

“I hate to quote him, but I’d say he would adapt and change, and it wouldn’t matter,” Sherrill said. “The defensive schemes Nick (Saban) has, where he likes to rotate a lot people and likes to play packages. Against this type of offense, you can’t rotate people; you can’t play packages.

“There’s a difference in coaching a kid who’s 270 or 280. Once you start approaching kids that weigh 300, unless they’re just a complete physical freak, (it’s difficult),” Sherrill said. “That’s what happened in the trenches to the big offensive linemen. A lot of people didn’t understand those guys couldn’t do certain things.

“That’s why Coach Bryant had zero patience with a big person. He couldn’t do the same thing a 195-pounder could do. You had this way back in the 70s. When we would play Houston with the run and shoot, we would take our two defensive tackles out and put two more secondary guys in, take our defensive ends, put them at tackle. The only one we kept in the game was the nose guard, but he ran a 4.6. He could run all day. It’s not like it hasn’t been here for a while.”

Sherrill isn’t directly taking a jab at Nick Saban, but he’s stoking the fire on the inevitable Bear Bryant-Nick Saban debate. It’s fun to talk about and break down. Sherrill says Bryant would adapt to tempo offenses, as he would obviously be forced to or lose games against teams with tempo offenses. It’s the same thing Saban is faced with.

MORE: Why I think Saban is better than Bryant

One staple of Nick Saban’s defenses is bigger position players than most other teams. Sherrill touched on it above. For example, Saban and Kirby Smart will recruit and sign a high school defensive tackle and turn him into a defensive end. Past players like linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw could have played with their hand down at defensive end. Instead, they were (bigger) linebackers because of their athleticism and Saban’s 3-4 scheme.

Saban is at a crossroads with defending spread attack and tempo teams. He’ll have a full season to adapt and game plan for that style of play, specifically against Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Auburn. Recruiting lighter, more athletic linebackers like he did in the 2014 recruiting class is a great place to start. The last few years LSU’s defenses have featured lighter, athletic defensive ends and outside linebackers who have played spread teams well. The Tigers beat Texas A&M in back-to-back years and virtually shut down Johnny Manziel, something Alabama didn’t do in the last couple of years. Of course he’s a dynamic player, but containing Manziel with athletic defensive ends and linebackers is what LSU did really well.

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The Tide’s roster is so stacked that there will only be a handful of teams that can give them problems, and lining up with a downhill power running game isn’t a formula for success for beating Saban’s Tide. Year after year, tempo teams with mobile quarterbacks have been the reoccurring theme that gives Alabama’s defenses trouble.

Assuming the March 6th 10-second proposal vote doesn’t pass, it will be fun watching Saban and his staff combat this style of play. Sherrill says Bryant could adapt, and everyone is watching to see how Saban will adapt.

Photo Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports



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  • Believe me, Saban knows he has to adjust or be irrelevant. Nobody knows this better than him. Also, Alabama will be running a version of HUNH themselves this season. Thus, the hiring of Kiffen who was already running something similar at USC. Look for the Tide to be in the final 4 for the playoffs…

  • Please, please Mr. Nick, don’t take us back to 3 yds and a cloud of dust…..please…..

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