Tide strike a balance on offense

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's offense is nothing if not diverse.

Crowd the box, and AJ McCarron will hurt you with his arm. Lay back in coverage, and running back Eddie Lacy and the offensive line will waltz all the way into the end zone.

The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide have beaten opponents in every form or fashion this season. Two weeks ago, UA ran for more than 300 yards in a 42-10 win over Missouri. A week later, Tennessee tried to keep the running game at bay. What did offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier do? He decided to throw the ball around, of course. McCarron competed 17 of 22 passes for 306 yards as Alabama won its sixth straight over the Vols 44-13.

"It’s hard for opponents to just come in and focus on one area of the game," Lacy said. "If they try to stop the run, we can pass the ball; if they try to stop the pass, then we run it. We have a very balanced offense and that’s a big strength for us."

Alabama's offensive output is nearly 50-50. The running game has accounted for 1,536 yards and 18 touchdowns. The passing game has kept up, tallying 1,541 yards and 16 scores. That's a difference of less than .001 percent in terms of total yardage.

Lacy said that the balance starts up from. From Week 1, he said, the line has gotten better.

"They made us better as an offensive unit," he said.

Said UA guard Anthony Steen: “Our running game is good at times, and when we have to rely on passes AJ is always there, and our receivers.”

Dee Milliner has to go against the Alabama offense every day in practice. The Tide's starting cornerback said there's not one area to focus on when trying to defend the likes of McCarron, Lacy and the rest.

"We got a great and experienced offensive line that does a great job at the line of scrimmage with attacking the defensive front," Milliner explained. "Then we've got great skill guys that make plays on the ball and do what they're supposed to do. And it’s just great because everybody plays the role they’re supposed to.

"Not one person is trying to stick out further than another person. Everybody just plays as a unit and do what they supposed to do."

With No. 11 Mississippi State coming to Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, those weapons will be tested. The ability to be multi-dimensional will be as well.

Coach Nick Saban said it's up to Nussmeier to get the offense ready for its biggest challenges over the next two weeks. First it's Mississippi State, then the showdown everyone has been waiting for when Alabama travels to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers.

"Offensive staff has done a good job of that for the most part, but again, we're going to play some of the most challenging defensive teams we've faced down the road here," Saban said. "So at this point we've done a pretty good job offensively, but I think it's important that everybody stays focused on improving and coming up with the kind of game plans and systems that are going to be effective against very, very good defensive teams."