More than nine days after Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was announced as the 31st head coach in Texas Longhorns program history, Sarkisian will complete his Alabama career as the Crimson Tide take on the Ohio State Buckeyes at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
For Longhorns fans, the intrigue in this game is watching Sarkisian operate as an offensive coordinator for the first time since he was hired.
Two pieces published recently on Burnt Orange Nation will help fans know what to watch for on Monday evening.
In a coaching clinic last season, Sarkisian explained the evolution of his offensive philosophy and how he came to base his attack around run-pass options:
“We’re an RPO team that runs the football. If you’re gonna let us run the ball, then we will continue to run the ball. The moment you say we’re gonna take away the run, our system is built to throw RPOs,” Sarkisian said.
During that clinic, Sarkisian broke down six base plays of his offense, including two run-pass options, two play-action passes, and two drop-back passes.
Land-Grant Holy Land broke down five key matchups for the Buckeyes against the Crimson Tide:
Perhaps the most glaring concern and what could be the most visible area in which Ohio State gets exploited tonight is in their handling of Alabama’s Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Though there is unlikely to be shadow coverage, Smith will still see a healthy amount of Shaun Wade across from him tonight as the former looks to regularly connect with quarterback Mac Jones throughout the contest.
LGHL spoke with Roll Bama Roll to preview the game:
I do worry a bit about the emotional toll a game like that could take on the team. Ohio State has been preparing for that Clemson rematch specifically all season long. The score of last year’s game was hanging in the weight room since the beginning of the offseason, and now that they have avenged their loss, they have to come back and take on the No. 1 team in the country. As I said before, Ryan Day is no slouch when it comes to motivation, and it isn’t exactly hard to get excited to play for a national title. However, I can’t see the Buckeyes having quite the same amount of fire like they did against the Tigers given the circumstances of the Sugar Bowl.
RBR looks at the Crimson Tide when they have the football:
Overall, I think that, in theory, Alabama’s offense matches up really well here. Their biggest struggles (which, admittedly, is a very relative “struggle”) have come against teams determined to drop multiple safeties deep, and I don’t expect Ohio State to come off of their preferred single-high, stack the box 4-3 base easily. They’ll give up a big play or two, but they will be absolutely determined to keep Najee from absolutely gashing them for 10 yards at a time.
How to Watch:
Time: 7 p.m. Central
Online Streaming: WatchESPN or Fubo.tv (free trial)
Odds: Alabama -8.5
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 70 degrees