So far, there is no fuss with Coach Nuss.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are gunning for a third national championship in four football seasons with a new offensive coordinator, as Doug Nussmeier is now calling the plays. Nussmeier replaced Jim McElwain, who accepted the head-coaching position at Colorado State last December but remained with the Tide through their 21-0 throttling of LSU in January's BCS title game.
Through 15 spring practices and five sessions this month, including Tuesday's full-pads workout, the 41-year-old former Idaho, New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts quarterback is drawing riveting reviews.
"He's got a lot of positive energy and a lot of good ideas that we've implemented into our offense," head coach Nick Saban said earlier this week. "I think the adjustments that we've made in the passing game are going to be beneficial to our offensive team being more explosive and creating more balance. I'm excited to have him. He's a good recruiter. He really fits in well with the other coaches on the staff.
"There are a lot of positives there."
Nussmeier is a rare new piece for an Alabama offense that returns quarterback AJ McCarron, a loaded line headed by Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker and a slew of undervalued receivers who gave LSU's vaunted secondary fits in the Superdome. The talents of former tailback Trent Richardson may be impossible for one person to replace, but Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler combined for 1,059 rushing yards last season, and touted freshman T.J. Yeldon was the star of the A-Day spring game.
There may be more blending than fixing this preseason on a unit that scored more than 30 points nine times last year.
"Obviously, the things that we've done offensively here have been very, very successful," Nussmeier said. "You try and look at everything we've done and be objective about what really is good and what maybe can we grow and get better at -- what background do I bring that maybe is something a little new that we can add to help the system be better as a whole.
"When you merge things, you try and look at what the strengths of each are and what the weaknesses are, and you try to build off both strengths."
Nussmeier spent the past three seasons at Washington, which racked up 5,328 yards and 431 points last year after losing quarterback Jake Locker as a top-10 pick to the Tennessee Titans. He did not call the plays, however, as that chore belonged to Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian.
In his one season with Fresno State in 2008, Nussmeier called the plays for a Bulldogs offense that averaged a shade under 30 points a game.
McCarron said it's been a "cool experience" working with Nussmeier, and Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart appreciates the challenges being presented daily on the practice fields. Smart won the 2009 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach, and his defense last year was No. 1 nationally in every major statistical category.
"They give us a couple more personnel groupings, more than Coach McElwain used," Smart said. "He does a really good job with the kids. He's a lot like Coach McElwain. He and Jim McElwain come from similar backgrounds, so there's a lot of carryover there. They both do a good job in the passing game and are both very innovative.
"They've got an answer for everything that you do, so it's always a chess match."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...