I thought it was supposed to be smash mouth football this year. Dominant offensive line. Strong, mobile quarterback. Boring. Beat them up. Make them quit. The return of MURDER BALL.
And on Saturday, I saw a porous offensive line that was a swinging gate to the quarterback.
First let me get to this – I owe an apology to Jalen Milroe. Throughout the Texas game, I was of the opinion that if he wasn’t going to help Alabama with his legs, he didn’t need to be in the game. That was before I saw Tyler Buchner in any kind of real-game action. And boy, was he terrible.
I was early money on what I saw with Buchner against South Florida. I’ll gladly show you – timestamps on tweets, texts, and group messages don’t lie. His footwork! Lort! This guy was the starter for Notre Dame? I thought I was watching a junior varsity QB – a high school JV quarterback.
I’m not going to take more space burying the kid. But you also saw what I saw. Yikes.
Ty Simpson wasn’t much better, but he wasn’t quality, either. You’re not beating anyone good with him at QB. At least not with how Tommy Rees is calling the game.
And that’s where I think the attention needs to be.
What the hell is going on with Alabama’s play calling?It’s always situations like this where you have to think – well, I’m not the coach, and I’m not there every day. So surely they know better than me. But do they? At least this time?
Remember back when Kiffin called games? Sarkisian? There actually seemed to be a method to it: Bama would give you a look early, and then later in the game give the same look and burn you. Adjust to the adjustment. Maybe the talent was better. But I recall some pretty good teams with Blake Sims and Jacob Coker at QB.
We can blame the poor play of the offensive line – surely there’s something to that. They have NOT lived up to expectations. But if five guys can’t block, maybe they should try six. Seven? What continues to dumbfound me is how I keep seeing 4 and 5 wide receiver sets, especially given the present state of Alabama’s receiving corps. In the last decade-plus, Alabama has been fortunate to suit up some of the nation’s top wide receivers each year. This year doesn’t exactly fit that same mold.
Opting for these setups without the required firepower, all the while leaving a beleaguered offensive line to fend off defenses, is tactically unsound. Why are they making this more difficult than it needs to be?
Someone needs to tell Tommy Rees (and maybe Nick Saban) that they aren’t playing with Alabama’s 2019 roster. These quarterbacks aren’t going to make the same reads that Tua Tagovailoa did with Waddle, Ruggs, and Jeudy to throw to – so don’t call the game that way today.
Rees (and Saban) needs the field cut in half for Milroe and needs to move the pocket to give him an option to use his legs. Make that linebacker choose – stay in pass protection or chase down Milroe. If you can just reset and write real big on the chalkboard “Play to Our Players’ Strengths,” it would all make sense.
I will throw a tangent in here in regards to how I’ve had an issue with how Saban has on occasion handled his quarterbacks – not naming a starter at the beginning of the season. I’m of the opinion that this dynamic causes young quarterbacks to play scared, or they try to do things that are outside of their skill set – because they are trying to prove themselves and gain acceptance as ‘the guy.’
Go back to the Jalen/Tua situation from a few years back – how much better was Jalen Hurts as a QB when he didn’t have to worry about losing his spot? Saban and Co. coached Jalen down to the point that he was scared to throw the ball at all. And I know, Tua was the better QB – he just was. But if that’s the case, just play Tua. It hurts the team, it hurts the player to do it any other way.
If you don’t name a definitive starter, then you need to actually play the guys that are in rotation. You have to play them with the other 1s, not garbage time. Then you learn what you have and make your decision from there.
What’s the worst that can happen if you name a starter? You just replace him when he plays himself out of the job. Nothing wrong with that, and you allowed the kid the opportunity to play with confidence.
Rant over. For now.
It’s evident there’s a misalignment between Alabama’s team strengths of the past decade and its current tactical approach. Whether the responsibility falls on Saban or the offensive coordinator, it’s evident that the playbook needs some revisiting.