Through Adversity, O’Brien Shines in SEC Championship Triumph
All season, the noise has been loud from Alabama nation. Criticism of the offense and new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has been one of the loudest opinions of the season almost universally throughout the fan base.
After a 2020 season in which the Crimson Tide had the greatest offense perhaps in the history of college football led by the best coordinator to ever step foot in Tuscaloosa in now Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian, expectations for the offense in 2021 were unrealistically high.
The Crimson Tide had an entirely new offensive line led by a new coach in former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone. Combined with this was a completely new cast of characters in the receiving game with the exception of John Metchie and the run game besides Brian Robinson.
With all of this and a new quarterback at the helm as well, Bill O'Brien was assigned an almost impossible task in comparison to the expectations placed upon him from the fans. And a top-10 offense in the nation that produced 492 yards and over 40 points a game STILL was not enough to satisfy the ridiculous expectations from Bama nation.
The anti-O'Brien rhetoric got even louder after an Iron Bowl in which Alabama struggled to move the ball for 58 minutes and the offense looked completely anemic. Many believed there was simply no path to victory for Alabama against what was believed to be a significantly better team in Atlanta.
But in Alabama's biggest test of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs' vaunted defense, allowing less than ten points per game, O'Brien's unit showed up in the biggest way possible.
The Georgia defense to this point had been built up to almost mythical proportions. They had not played a close game all season and not a single opponent of theirs has hung in with them, and the stifling defense was the main reason why.
In a game where everyone expected Georgia to completely shut down Bryce Young and the Tide offense, Alabama put up 41 points, 536 yards, and was even able to rush for 115 yards. Of course, Young was the star of the day, throwing for 421 yards, an SEC championship record, to go along with three touchdowns.
O'Brien's game plan simply carved up the Georgia defense and was able to carry the Tide to victory. In an uncharacteristic game (in comparison to how the rest of the season has gone), the offense led the way and picked up for the defense, who allowed 24 points and 449 yards to quarterback Stetson Bennett IV and the Georgia offense.
After a season in which O'Brien caught the brunt of the criticism from Alabama fans, his unit showed up in the biggest way possible in the biggest game of the season thus far. Perhaps Alabama fans will now show some appreciation for the work O'Brien has done under extreme adversity rather than trying to shuffle him off to his next job.
With the Crimson Tide now playoff bound, time will tell. But one thing is for certain. Bill O'Brien has earned his stripes as the offensive coordinator of the Alabama Crimson Tide.