'Boring' Alabama offense also balanced

NEW ORLEANS -- Alabama senior center William Vlachos figures the Crimson Tide’s offense is probably boring to most people.

“They probably say we have exceptional players and that most people don’t and we can just kind of pound the ball on offense,” Vlachos said.

But when you examine a little closer, one of the best-kept secrets in the SEC this season was that Alabama was the only team in the league to average more than 200 rushing yards and more than 200 passing yards per game.

“I’m glad somebody took note,” joked outgoing Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who will leave for the Colorado State head coaching job following the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done, and I know as an offensive coordinator that having a great defense is the best offense you can have. The way coach (Nick) Saban approaches it, from all three phases fitting together and not being selfish, that’s the one thing I enjoy the most that he does. Let’s figure out how to win the game.”

In that first contest between LSU and Alabama back on Nov. 5, the Crimson Tide just missed 200 passing yards (199). But they were held to 96 yards on the ground.

“We did some things well, but there were a lot of things we left out there on the field, just little things, where if you finish your block for a split-second, they’re not able to come off and get a hand on the running back,” Vlachos explained. “That’s something LSU does extremely well. They shed blockers late and get to the football.

"It’s up to us to execute and finish and hold that block for that extra second.”

McElwain said LSU was especially good at pressuring in that high red zone and knocking players out of position.

“We’ve got to score,” McElwain said. “That’s the bottom line, and yet, these guys don’t give up many scores. It’s a great challenge. We’re roll it out there and see what happens.”

McElwain, who clearly hasn't lost his sense of humor from being kept out of the end zone in the first game, said he's grateful that his dog, Clara Bell, was around when he got home later that night.

“She didn’t really know that we didn’t score. She was excited to see me when I got home and that did lift my spirits a little bit,” McElwain joked.

Asked what kind of dog Clara Bell was, McElwain referred to her as a 4 ½-pound hunting dog.

“She’s unbelievable and can go get you,” McElwain said. “She’s one of those that we saved from the pound that has a bunch of stuff in it. That’s probably like me, just a normal guy who happens to be at Alabama.”

McElwain grew emotional when he told his players last month that he was leaving for Colorado State. But he said wearing the two hats the past couple of weeks hasn’t been a hassle.

“I love our guys and put everything I can into those guys and realize I’m not coaching for anybody but those guys," McElwain said. "Obviously, this has been an unbelievable run, being at a place like the University of Alabama. Shoot, I grew up in Montana. This is amazing and something I’ll carry with me forever, these players."