Alabama announced Nick Saban’s finalized coaching staff for the 2018 season.
Mike Locksley will replace Brian Daboll as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator after serving as the team’s co-offensive coordinator in 2017. Daboll left Alabama to be the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.
Locksley got his first shot as a head coach in 2009 after 17 years as an assistant. He went 2-26 in his time at New Mexico and was fired after four games into the 2011 season. He was Maryland’s interim coach for the final six games of the 2015 season after Randy Edsall was fired midseason. The Terrapins went 1-5 in those six games. Before he took the head coaching job at New Mexico, Locksley was the offensive coordinator at Illinois. He was Maryland’s offensive coordinator under Edsall before he was promoted to interim coach.
As an offensive analyst in 2016, Locksley worked alongside now-Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin and Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. He was promoted to an official coaching position in January of 2017 after Sarkisian left for the Falcons. Daboll was named the team’s offensive coordinator in February.
Don’t expect the Alabama offense to change much in 2018. Locksley has worked closely with Alabama’s previous three offensive coordinators. The Tide’s offense has been successful with tempo and quick passes to counter a power running game, though the Alabama offense did go deep (like it had with Jake Coker previously) in the second half of the National Championship Game with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, who is 26-2 over two seasons as the Tide’s starter, are expected to compete for the starting quarterback job in 2018.
In addition to the two quarterbacks (at the moment anyway), Alabama’s offense returns running back Damien Harris, the team’s leading rusher in 2017. Najee Harris, who led the team in rushing in the title game, is back for his sophomore season and Josh Jacobs should be fully healthy too. Jacobs said he’d been playing since Week 5 of the 2017 season with an ankle injury.
Alabama needs to replace Calvin Ridley at wide receiver, but freshmen Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith — who caught the championship-winning pass from Tagovailoa — could step into bigger roles.
On the other side of the ball, Tosh Lupoi, the team’s co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers in 2017, has been promoted to defensive coordinator. Lupoi replaces Jeremy Pruitt, who left Bama to become the head coach at Tennessee. Lupoi joined the Alabama staff as a defensive analyst in 2014 before becoming the team’s outside linebackers coach in 2015. In 2016, he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator under Pruitt.
“We are excited to be able to promote from within to fill our offensive and defensive coordinators positions,” Saban said. “Both Tosh and Michael are tremendous football coaches who will do an excellent job leading their respective units.”
In addition to the promotions of Locksley and Lupoi, Alabama also announced the hires of Dan Enos and Craig Kuligowski. Enos will serve as the quarterbacks coach for the Tide, while Kuligowski will coach the defensive line. Both have associate head coach titles as well. Enos, the former Central Michigan head coach, joins Alabama after a brief stint at Michigan. He spent the last three years as Arkansas’ offensive coordinator.
“We are pleased and happy to have Dan Enos joining our coaching staff at The University of Alabama,” Saban said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge with five years of head coaching experience and numerous stops as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dan is a bright football mind and an outstanding recruiter who will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best chance to be successful.”
Kuligowski spent the last two years at Miami following 15 years under Gary Pinkel at Missouri. He is regarded as one of the top defensive line coaches in the country.
“I have known Craig for a long time, going all the way back to my first head coaching job at Toledo when he was one of our starting offensive tackles,” Saban said. “He is an outstanding football coach who will bring great energy to our program. Craig does a tremendous job of developing players and has proven to be an exceptional recruiter.”
Pete Golding, who Alabama hired last month from UTSA, will be Alabama’s inside linebackers and serve as the co-defensive coordinator. Josh Gattis, most recently Penn State’s receivers coach, will be the Tide’s co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach.
Burton Burns, who spent 11 years as running backs coach, will move to the off-field role of assistant athletics director for football. Joe Pannunzio, recently the director of personnel operations for the Philadelphia Eagles, will take over as running backs coach. After spending the last five seasons at Texas A&M, Jeff Banks will be Alabama’s tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
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