Comparing Lane Kiffin's Alabama offenses from 2014 to 2015
Last season was a time of redemption for Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who at least partially restored his reputation after getting fired from the head coaching job at Southern California by reinvigorating the Crimson Tide offense.
Kiffin, who also earned scorn in SEC territory for the way he quickly exited Tennessee to take the USC job, hasn’t gotten quite the same level of praise this season as it has seemingly been Alabama’s defense that has carried the Tide. But statistically speaking, the results on offense have been awfully similar.
In 2014, Alabama scored 36.9 points per game, ranking 16th in the nation. This year, the Tide is only slightly behind that pace, averaging 33.5 points per game. Last season, Kiffin’s offense averaged 484.5 yards per game compared to 421.9 this year. So while there has been a bit of a step back, it hasn’t been as drastic as many might have guessed and Kiffin’s offense has still been fairly potent.
The job Kiffin has done in 2015 might actually be a bit more impressive considering he doesn’t have as many prolific playmakers at his disposal. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry each rushed for more than 900 yards last season while Amari Cooper was nearly unstoppable at wide receiver, making 124 catches for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns.
This year, Henry is carrying the load at running back almost all by himself with 180 carries for 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns already. The Tide has also struggled to find a go-to receiver. At times, freshman Calvin Ridley has shined, while at other points ArDarius Stewart has come up big, but nobody on the roster has come even close to replicating the kind of threat Cooper posed last season.
But perhaps the biggest difference is at quarterback. Jake Coker has done a fine job in his first season as a starter, getting better as the year has gone on. He’s managed the offense well, completing 64 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,623 yards and 11 touchdowns with 7 interceptions.
But with Coker at quarterback, the Tide is lacking an element it had last year after Blake Sims beat him out for the starting job. Coker has done a good job at avoiding sacks and occasionally pulling it down and gaining a few yards on the ground, but he’s not the true dual threat of Sims.
Sims was truly underrated last season, completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 3,487 yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. More than halfway through this season, Coker would have to really pick up the pace to match those numbers, despite being known as a pocket passer.
Sims was also effective carrying the ball. He rushed 83 times for 350 yards and 7 touchdowns. So far, Coker has carried just 42 times for 184 yards 2 touchdowns.
So while the overall numbers are down just a bit, Kiffin has managed to figure out ways to move the ball despite losing three of his biggest weapons from a year ago, which has been a key reason why Alabama continues to win.