It's the football equivalent of a first world problem. I remember a couple of years ago when there would be 4-5 future Tide players in this game, and normally no more than two would be on the field at once. This year, it seemed like half of Team Highlight's starting offense were Bama guys, and a couple of defenders on Team Armour were too. It made scouting individual players very difficult for me, but totally worth it. To cap off the day, a pair of five-star players, Daron Payne and Kendall Sheffield, committed to the Tide during the game.
Calvin Ridley was only targeted twice all game. He played the outside receiver on the right side of the field. His first target was a slightly under thrown back shoulder fade in the end zone from Blake Barnett. Ridley almost managed to pull it in with one hand, but it ended up incomplete. He also took a quick out route from Barnett in which he stiff-armed CB Minkah Fitzpatrick to the ground and sprinted for 28 yards down the sideline before tripping over the turf.
Shawn Burgess-Becker had a mostly quiet game. He lined up some at deep safety, but was mostly used as a nickel back covering the slot receiver. He got in on a few tackles and pass coverages here and there, but his best play was a very impressive open field tackle on the 230 pound running back, Jacques Patrick.
Deionte Thompson was solely used as a single high safety. He looked fast patrolling the deep third of the field, but to my knowledge he was not involved in any tackles or pass defenses. He also looks even thinner than he did in high school.
Blake Barnett was the second leading passer on the night. He completed 5-10 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. While he did not really attempt anything over about 15 yards, most of Barnett's throws were tough out routes and 3rd and long conversions on outside curls or back shoulder fades. He had one scramble play where he heaved the ball on the run about 25 yards to the end zone where it hit his tight end perfectly in his outstretched hands. It was a little contested, however, and the ball fell incomplete. He also added 8 yards on 5 rushes.
Brandon Kennedy had some extensive playing time, spending a little time at center but mostly at right guard. While he seemed to hold his own on most plays, Daylon Mack absolutely stole his lunch money a couple of times, and Kennedy single-handedly caused a few tackles for loss.
Richie Petitbon played almost the entire game at left guard, and gave an admirable performance. He went back and forth with Daron Payne most of the game, and mostly held Payne in check. Petitbon looked solid both in his run blocking and his pass protection, and I noticed him constantly getting to the second level to block linebackers and pave the way for Damien Harris's big rushing night.
Lester Cotton sustained a concussion during the practices this week, and did not participate in the game.
Hale Hentges dropped an easy catch from Blake Barnett on the first drive of the game, and that was about his only TV time. I saw him block a defensive back on running play later on, but that was about it from the tight end.
Kendall Sheffield had a nice game overall. He actually led his team with five solo tackles, and looked like a missile closing in on ball carriers near the sidelines. Like any good Alabama defensive back, an opposing QB managed to complete a deep ball against him. It was one of those where Sheffield was in position and even got his head turned to make the interception, but the ball still ended up in the receiver's hands. That aside, his pure speed is very apparent on the field.
Adonis Thomas had a mostly quiet game. He was involved in a couple of tackles and a tackle for loss on a blitz. He never put his hand in the dirt to rush the passer that I saw, but he looked very comfortable in pass coverage.
Minkah Fitzpatrick did not have the best of nights. While he did keep Barnett from hooking up with Ridley for a touchdown, Ridley managed to stiff arm him to the ground later. He also (again, like any good Alabama defensive back) gave up a long ball down the sideline. You can tell from watching him move though, Fitzpatrick is an elite and eerily smooth athlete.
Josh McMillon was supposedly in this game. I never actually saw him, so I don't know if he didn't play or was just invisible.
Daron Payne had a great game. He was mostly asked to take on double teams and two gap responsibilities while Daylon Mack pinned his ears back. And Payne did so admirably, almost always moving the double team back a yard or two. On the few plays he was allowed to attack a single gap, Payne was extremely disruptive. He had one monster swim move that left the offensive lineman staring into space as Payne swallowed the back for a loss. He also got his hands up to bat down a Blake Barnett pass.
Alabama had a few uncommitted targets playing in this game too.
Daylon Charlot, a former commitment, had a punt return for a touchdown and almost took a second on to the house, but was tripped by the turf monster. Obtaining Charlot's re-re-commitment would be huge for the class, as Ridley is the only receiver right now.
Damien Harris was the game's leading rusher, putting up 110 yards and a touchdown on only 16 carries, and looking like the nation's top running back along the way.
Leo Lewis (one of my favorites for the 2015 cycle before he decommitted in the summer) was involved in seeming every play at middle linebacker and was all over the field.
Byron Cowart, the nation's top defensive end, had a very solid game. He made himself at home in the opposing team's backfield and forced a fumble.
Alabama was well represented in this game, and then stole the show with two top prospects committing to the Tide in-game on live television.