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A Q&A With UW Dawg Pound On New Alabama OC Doug Nussmeier

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Having seen spring ball and the Great Mustard Crisis of 2012 recently come to an end, we are now entering an unfortunately long dead period for college football. Yes, us Detroit and Chicago sports fans (i.e. the latter for me) still have hockey baseball, but, really, what fun is that in April/May? I don't know about you all, but a SportsCenter Top 10 of the best plays of Will Heininger's career far surpasses any baseball-centric list that you'll find around this time and into the summer. Yes, that 6-4-3 double play was really neat the first 8,423 times.

Unfortunately for you, there's still not all that much to discuss vis-a-vis the football team that hasn't already been rehashed ad nauseam. This means that practically any entity on the Internet tasked with covering Michigan football--including this one--will have to stretch their wits a bit to find something, anything, to talk about.

As such, if you were not already aware, Alabama's previous offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain--who was in T-town for both of Alabama's recent national titles--filled the vacant head coaching position at Colorado State (although he did stay on to coach the Tide in the national title game). He has been replaced by Washington OC/QB coach Doug Nussmeier, who held the position in Seattle for three seasons. For me, as I'm sure is the case for you, PAC 12 football is a little more off-the-radar than other major conferences due to sheer geography, so I figured it would be a good idea to shoot the guys at SB Nation's UW site--UW Dawg Pound--a line regarding their former OC and what he may or not bring to Alabama. Dawg Pound manager John Berkowitz was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the man who will be leading the Alabama offense this fall.

It could be nothing, it could be something, but, like I's May 1st. Just be glad this isn't a post about WHIP or OPS or any of the other things going on right now in the sporting world that are less interesting than even the least interesting aspects of college football.

--So, first: general impressions? He was in Seattle for three years, and most fans have fairly strong opinions going either way about their coordinators. Was he well-liked by the fans? Disliked? Alabama liked Nussmeier enough to replace an outgoing OC who helped them win two national titles, so clearly he did something right.

The general impression of Doug Nussmeier was that he was well liked and respected by the fans and coaching staff. He is a proven QB guru who will make anyone he coaches a a better and more efficient player.

--At UW, was the offense essentially his to run or did Coach Sarkisian have any hand in the playcalling?

Sark handled all the play calling and it was definitely 100% his offense. Nuss moved on to Alabama for two reasons. Number one would be overall more responsibility which would include play calling and installing the offense. Number two would be a salary close to $850,000 per year which would basically double what he received at UW.

--After Jake Locker left for the NFL, many predicted that UW football would trend downward once again in 2011 after having seen improvement from Sark's first and second seasons. Of course, this did not happen, and the easy explanation is "Keith Price," who was probably one of my favorite Pac 12 players to watch last year. The question: how did Coach Nussmeier et al manage this? Given Sark's history as a QB coach, was Price's effectiveness last season more attributable to Sark's QB pointers or Nussmeier's schemes and/or playcalling?

Nuss spent three years working with Price. Even though his title was OC at UW he was basically a QB coach while assisting Sark in running the offense.

--How would you describe Nussmeier's particular brand of offense to an outsider?

Nuss is a pro style/west coast offense type of guy.

--Similarly, are there any particular games in Seattle the last few years that have been notably well-called [by Nussmeier] or, conversely, poorly-called, from an offensive perspective?

Nuss did not call games while at UW.

--In spring ball, I've tried to figure out whether or not Alabama losing its OC would make any difference at all. According to generic spring chatter--particularly from QB AJ McCarron--absolutely nothing has changed in transitioning from former OC (and new Colorado State HC) JIm McElwain to Nussmeier except minor things, such as that "play where you turn around and hand it off to the 4/5-star tailback is called this instead of that now." This might be entirely true given the nature of Nick Saban's General Philosophy of Football (play defense, force turnovers, don't make mistakes/do anything too crazy on offense). I'm not sure how much Alabama football you've watched, but it seems like the OC position at Bama sets people up to succeed and find jobs elsewhere but does not perhaps offer a whole lot of leeway with respect to playcalling. In short, do you think that Nussmeier will be able to do anything "new" at Alabama with the offense?

McElwain and Nussmeier both were on the same staff at Fresno State so I expect that they will have similar styles. In other words I don't expect Alabama to skip a beat.

--In the same vein as the last question, I've been searching for differences between the Bama offense of the last few years and Nussmeier's offense at UW in an attempt to figure out what tendencies may or may not exist. Of course, living in the Eastern Time Zone has not allowed me to watch much Pac 12 football, so it's probably better to just ask you, someone who would know, rather than attempting to "break down" shoddily cut Youtube highlight videos. What sort of wrinkles and/or little gimmicks, trick plays, change-ups, etc. might Nussmeier bring with him to Tuscaloosa (and, more importantly, to Texas this fall, where Michigan will take on Alabama in Cowboys Stadium).

Same answer as the last question.

--If pressed, I could probably think of one word to summarize the tenures of the Michigan offensive coordinators of the recent past. Malone: competent. DeBord: NOOOOOOOO. Borges: gorgeous. In a word, how would you describe Coach Nussmeier?


--Perhaps the biggest question mark on the current Alabama football team are the wide receivers. Anything relevant to say about Nussmeier vis-a-vis the development of UW's wideouts the last few years?

He didn't work with wideouts at I said previously even though he had the title of OC he was basically a glorified QB coach at UW.


So, there you have it. Thanks again to John Berkowitz of UW Dawg Pound for taking the time to answer a few questions. Now, back to your regularly scheduled discussions of Will Campbell's pad level and how Dave Brandon is not the Michigan-est Michigan Michigan that ever Michigan'd and is therefore terrible and does not get it.