Top five things to watch for the Alabama Offense
1. Development of the #2 QB: Listen to me now or hear me later but Blake Sims is not going to be Alabama’s #2 quarterback. I’ve read and heard numerous reports stating Sims is the #2 starter. The pundits say this simply because Sims is taking the #2 reps during the viewing period (which is certainly to be expected since he’s a junior and is the only other QB on the team who’s taken any meaningful snaps). Listen, if AJ goes down to injury the starting QB will be Alec Morris. Why? Think about it. No, seriously, let’s think about this:
- As Tony Barnhardt has said, Alabama has the best collection of wide receivers in the history of Bama football. Lots o’ talent! It stands to reason Saban will want to get these talented WRs the ball, right? The fact is that Morris can do this much better than Sims can and it’s not even close. Morris can flat out sling the football.
- Since Sims can’t throw the ball nearly as well as Morris, Nussmeier would have to strip out an extensive part of the playbook to accommodate Sims’ skill set (i.e. much of the passing game). With Morris, the entire playbook would continue to be at Nussmeier’s disposal.
- Morris clearly outplayed Sims in the A-Day game and nearly led his team to a game winning score. Sims threw two interceptions, one of which made 90,000 people groan in unison.
- Which QB (Morris or Sims) has a skill set that reminds you of the other Saban QBs: John Parker Wilson, Greg McElroy and AJ McCarron? Saban clearly wants a QB who can deliver the football from the safety of the pocket and that QB is Alec Morris.
To be clear, if AJ gets injured then we would expect to see a 70/30 split between Morris and Sims at QB as Sims certainly has the ability to run the read option with great success. But, Morris is the guy Saban will turn to to lead the offense the majority of the time. Believe this.
2. The Emergence of RBs behind Yeldon and Drake: Most folks feel (and I agree) that TJ Yeldon and Kenyon Drake are set to take on the bulk of the carries this year. If Derek Henry can prove he’s healthy, then I’d look for both Henry and Drake to have roughly the same amount of carries while backing up Yeldon (assuming Drake continues to show the staff that he can pick up blitzes). However, once you get past this trio of backs, the picture becomes a bit cloudy. Dee Hart appears to be running third string right now but he’s really never been able to put himself into a position to get a significant number of carries. Meanwhile, we think one of the freshmen who arrived to camp this summer (Altee Tenpenny, Tyren Jones and Alvin Kamara) will need to separate themselves during these scrimmages as Saban will likely want to use one more back this season.
3. Health of Fowler and Henry: It sounds as though Fowler’s knee (ACL) is pretty close to 100% but it’s unclear how healthy Henry (broken leg) is at this time. The Lighthouse staff is looking forward to hearing & seeing how well these two have recovered from their injuries and how ready they are for Virginia Tech. BTW – you could easily make a case that we should add Dee Hart to this least as we do need to see how his knee is holding up, as well.
4. Backups at left tackle and left guard: Yeah, I know, this is an obscure item to be concerned about but hear me out before you skip to #5. Arie Kouandjio has suffered through a multitude of injury issues during his time at the Capstone so developing a second string Guard is critical. Alphonse Taylor appears to be the front runner but true freshman Grant Hill is really turning heads during fall camp. There are several options here but we think the backup RG will get plenty of snaps this season. Now, finding a backup left tackle is a much, much bigger issue. No one on the team has the athleticism of Cyrus Kouandjio so if he goes down to an injury it’s going to be a big deal. Put it this way, if AJ were to go down, we think Alec Morris would be a very capable replacement. If Cyrus misses any games, the left tackle cupboard is bare. Losing him would have a tremendous effect on the Tide’s offense so finding a second stringer is a big deal to the Lighthouse staff.
5. The place kicker battle: Cade Foster has had an up and down career during his time in Tuscaloosa and now he’s going to be looked upon to hit both the short field goals as well as the long range bombs. Jeremy Shelley hit 11 of 11 kicks inside the 40 yard line so it’s going to be impossible to do better than he did last season. If Foster shows any signs of having troubles with his consistency, highly acclaimed redshirt freshman Adam Griffith is waiting in the wings to take his place. If you can foresee any of the Bama games coming down to a final kick this season then you’d better know finding a kicker is a big, big deal. Kickers…you gotta love ’em!
That’s what we are looking for on offense during the scrimmages. What are you guys looking for during fall camp?