TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Doug Nussmeier gives Alabama another high-energy offensive coordinator from the West Coast with NFL experience.
His task, like predecessor Jim McElwain, is more about executing the philosophy than changing it.
The Crimson Tide's offensive chief seems to be fitting in nicely leading up to his first season.
"We really like him," center Barrett Jones said. "I think he's a great fit for what we have going on here. What I like is he really hasn't come in and tried to change everything.
"He has added some things to our offense, but I don't think he's going to want to change the things we do well and try to mess up the good things we have going.
"I think he just wants to come in and add to that. He's really come in and done some cool things. It's almost like we haven't skipped a beat on the offensive end. He's worked really hard in the offseason to familiarize himself with everything we do and add some new stuff that he does. It's about as seamless a transition as I can imagine."
In other words, it will still be Alabama's offense taking the field Sept. 1 against Michigan. Pass? Sure. Run? Definitely.
"There won't be any confusion there," Jones said.
Nussmeier, a former NFL quarterbacks coach and Fresno State offensive coordinator, replaced McElwain, who was also a former NFL quarterbacks coach and Fresno State offensive coordinator, in January.
McElwain took over Colorado State's program after the BCS national championship game win over LSU.
"Coach Nuss" has been a hit with the players so far. He spent the past three seasons in the same job at Washington, where Steve Sarkisian was the offensive play caller.
Then he traveled across the country to a program that has won two of the past three national titles to work for coach Nick Saban, who is known more for his defensive acumen but also has firmly established views of what he wants offensively.
Nussmeier received a $590,000 three-year deal, a proven quarterback in AJ McCarron and a veteran offensive line, if few proven receivers.
Another perk of the job: the chance to go against the defense of Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart daily in practice.
"I think it's outstanding from an offensive perspective to practice every day against our defense," Nussmeier said. "You see so many different looks. It exposes you, really, from a mindset that you have to really be looking at every play you're running. You learn really fast some strengths and some weaknesses you have in place — which is really, really good."
Though overshadowed by the defense, the Tide led the Southeastern Conference in rushing offense and ranked second in total yards, third in scoring and fourth in passing offense last season. McCarron was MVP of the national title game after going 24-of-34 for 234 yards to close his first season as starter.
Nussmeier said McCarron's improvement last season was evident, but so was his progress during and after spring practices.
"I think he continues to get better every day," he said. "He works extremely hard. He's very conscientious. I'm really excited about what the future holds for him. I think he has a very, very high ceiling."
McCarron said working with Nussmeier has been "awesome."
"Coach Nuss just brings an energy to the game and to practice," he said. "If you're not on your stuff that day, then you better be on it. He's going to be energized the whole time, no matter if he's praising you and telling you that was a good read or whatever, or chewing your butt out. That's something you need as a quarterback and you want in your OC. It's definitely been a pleasure working with him."
Saban doesn't seem concerned with the fact that Nussmeier wasn't the primary play caller at Washington after one season as Fresno State's coordinator.
"He has called plays in circumstances and situations here with us, whether it was a scrimmage or an A-Day game or whatever," Saban said. "He's a very bright guy with a lot of positive energy. He has a lot of good ideas that we've implemented into our offense.
"The players respond well to him; the players like him. I'm really excited to have him. He's a very good recruiter. He really fits in well with the other coaches on the staff. There's a lot of positives there, but I can't predict what I don't know."