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AP file photo by Vasha Hunt / Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian

Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian used "fortunate" throughout a nearly 20-minute Zoom call Tuesday evening, and with good reason.

The 46-year-old underwent a successful heart procedure in early July and recently received an $850,000 raise to $2.5 million annually. Yet most of Sarkisian's upbeat references reflected a Crimson Tide offense that returns Mac Jones at quarterback, Najee Harris at running back, and DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle as receivers.

There is also an offensive line loaded with veterans that could be, along with inside linebacker, the strength of the team.

"We obviously have an abundance of experience up front," Sarkisian said. "When you start talking about Deonte Brown, Landon Dickerson, Alex Leatherwood, Chris Owens, Evan Neal — those guys have played a lot of football. One of the things that comes out of that is the communication factor, because those guys can communicate really well with one another up front.

"They also communicate to us as coaches, because they've seen a lot of football and know some of the issues that defenses are presenting."

Sarkisian was answering questions this time last year about returning quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the 2018 Heisman Trophy runner-up who was a top-five pick in this year's NFL draft, but he is very confident in Jones and a deep crop of running backs that includes Brian Robinson, Keilan Robinson and Trey Sanders, a five-star signee in 2019 who suffered a season-ending foot injury last August.

Harris rushed for 1,224 yards and 5.9 yards per carry last season, but Sarkisian is hoping for a larger party this fall.

"We leaned so much on Najee, especially the last two-thirds of the season," Sarkisian said. "Ideally, we would like to have a little more rotation, so that Najee is a little more fresh for the second half. There is a fine line in finding that rhythm for your lead runner and also your complementary backs, whether that's in the third series of the game or in special situations.

"Some of our younger players have really shown me some stuff these first couple of days."

Alabama will be looking to challenge last year's offensive numbers compiled in Sarkisian's first season, when the Crimson Tide averaged 510.8 yards per game and a school-record 47.2 points per contest.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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