Alabama's underappreciated offense

Updated: March 8, 2013, 1:49 PM ET
By Travis Haney

Ask pretty much anyone the No. 1 reason the Alabama Crimson Tide have won three of the past four BCS titles, and the answer is routine. The Bama defense has allowed just 4 yards per play since 2009, easily first in the country, and that defense has sparked those runs to the crystal football.

But the focus on Nick Saban and Kirby Smart's defense has become almost a preoccupation -- it's caused neglect, a lack of attention for what has been a highly efficient offense in that same time frame.

It begins with a simple formula, one that most teams attempt to execute but few do well: run and stop the run.

By being able to run -- the team's 5.29 yards-per-rush average was fifth in the FBS from 2009-12 -- Bama is opening up the passing game and creating general balance.

"They're committed to running the ball, and they do it better than just about anyone outside an option offense," one SEC assistant told me this week. "When you can run like that, and when you commit to run, it opens up everything else."