Today’s piece will be a bit of a test run of a new weekly piece I wanted to bring into our regular RBR lineup. With a day to stew on the game we witnessed on Saturday night, I wanted to point out a few specific moments or players that stuck out to me as things that are strong positives (or needs to be cleaned up) for the season going forward.
I was planning on including some highlight captures of the plays in question, but ESPN caught on to my usual screen recording software and blacked it out… So until I found a work around, this will just be fully in text.
Stock-up: Early in the first quarter, the Tide defense faced a 3rd and 9 against the Utah State offense. After a late substitution from both teams, Malachi Moore shifted towards the line of scrimmage like he was planning on blitzing, and frantically signaled back to Jordan Battle to cover his man.
When the play started, though, Moore didn’t blitz, but instead cut off the quick slant. The QB initially looked for this slant, then quickly moved his eyes to the other side of the field. By that time, Will Anderson had, uh, terminated, the left tackle and forced the QB to throw it out of bound.
It was a small, deceptive pre-snap thing that gave Anderson just an extra half-a-tick to make a difference in the play, and a good representation of just how comfortable the Tide safety group is with each other entering year 3 of the same starters.
Stock Down: This one is a bit of a mixed review moment. After a 4th down stop, Bryce Young dropped back on a neat looking play action and then took a shot down field. It was a dime of a throw in between double-coverage, and ultimately drew a pass interference. The positive was the play call itself. It wasn’t just a standard play-action, but worked horizontally in one direction with some jet motion before having Bryce reset and throw deep the other way. It was very Sarkisian-esque.
The negative, though, was that it should have been a touchdown. There was a flood concept going deep and to the right, and both defenders bit on Jermaine Burton, the deeper player. And so Ja’ Corey Brooks was left streaking to the lower right corner of the endzone all by his lonesome. Unfortunately, Young missed it and took the shot into double coverage.
Stock Up: Jaheim Oatis- The true freshman got a lot of hype this summer, and early in the game, didn’t get as much playing time as maybe we had hoped. He did start rotating in during the 2nd quarter though, and made one very, very solid run stop a couple of minutes before halftime. He tied up the right guard as Henry To’o To’o blitzed through the gap, then ragdoll tossed that guard onto his knees and dove forward to help To’o To’o with finishing off the tackle for loss.
Stock Down: Robbie Ouzts – Saban talked after the game about this kind of game being an opportunity for young players who didn’t necessarily plan on being a starter to show that they can be ready to make the most of said opportunity. While Ouzts probably wasn’t exactly who Saban was talking about, since we all expected Cam Latu to miss this game, he also didn’t do himself any favors. He was a non-factor in the passing game and got absolutely pantsed on redzone sack of Bryce Young that led to one of Young’s only drives that didn’t end in a touchdown.
Stock Up: Kool-Aid the punt returner. Kool-Aid Mckinstry also played quite well at defensive back, but I specifically wanted to point out his punt returning. He got quite a few chances to field punts, and seemed to competently make decisions on whether to return them, fair catch them, or let them bounce and get out of the way. He was decisive in each case, and I never got worried about impending disaster. Plus, while he didn’t get too many yards, both of his first two return attempts were inches away from being breakaway return. He’s going to get a PR TD or two this season.
If you have any suggestions on this piece or what you’d like to see, chime in on the comments below. The idea is to increase some of our post-game wrap-up content on Sundays/Mondays before moving into opponent previews later in the week.