Alabama offense out to prove it has more playmakers ready to step up

Alabama returns three starters from an offense that ranked among the top five nationally in scoring offense, passing offense, total offense and third-down conversions last season.

While it’s difficult to replace eight starters, especially when five of them were first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, players like redshirt senior running back Brian Robinson are embracing the challenge the Crimson Tide’s offense faces ahead of its upcoming 2021 campaign.

“I think this offense just wants to prove that we have more players that can step up and make that impact on this team,” Robinson told reporters Monday. “With those guys leaving and going to the draft, most of us guys on offense just see it as motivation. And just playing beside those guys and just seeing how those guys went about working every day, we just wanna make that transition and have guys that step up and can play those same type of roles.”

All in all, Alabama will have a new starting quarterback, running back, two wide receivers, tight end and three offensive linemen this season -- although some of the players stepping into those spots have past first-team experience. Robinson is one after serving as the Crimson Tide’s No. 2 tailback and finishing second on the team in rushing each of the last two years.

The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native appears poised to take over the No. 1 running back role in place of first-rounder Najee Harris, but he will likely share the football with some of Alabama’s younger backs like Trey Sanders, Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams. He was asked how the younger players, specifically McClellan and Williams, performed in Saturday’s scrimmage.

“This was a great opportunity for those guys to have an opportunity to play in a game-like situation so that they would be ready for when the game comes,” Robinson said. “So it was great that we went about our scrimmage that way so we have more people prepared to play in a real game-like situation. Those guys have been doing everything that they’ve been asked to do, and they went out and they scrimmaged and they competed well. I’m just excited for the growth of the younger running backs and just to see what those guys can do in a real game.”

Head coach Nick Saban also likes what he’s seen from Robinson and the younger tailbacks.

“There’s a lot of competition there,” Saban said. “I mean, I’m really pleased with the guys at that position. B-Rob has had a really good camp, did a nice job in the scrimmage. Jace, Roydell, Trey Sanders, all those guys really have been playing well and are playing well. I’m pleased with the progress that all those guys have shown and made in the spring, as well as in camp. We’re excited about that position.”

There’s a lot of new to this year’s Crimson Tide offense, and the coaching staff is no different. In total, Saban added five new assistant coaches this offseason with four of them coaching on the offensive side of the ball. Robinson has worked closely with one of the new hires, running backs coach Robert Gillespie, who seems to have adapted well to the move to Alabama.

“It’s been great,” Robinson said. “Ever since Gillespie has come in, he’s just been doing a great job with the running back room. We have a lot of respect for Coach Gillespie and the amount of time that he puts into our room. I’m excited to have an opportunity to play under Gillespie in my final year here.”  

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