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Alabama Football Film Room: Robert Foster

Robert Foster has battled the depth chart and an injury in his first three years on campus, and the redshirt junior again faces stiff competition for playing time in 2016. He came out the gate hot in 2015 and has had a strong offseason thus far.

Robert Foster scores the first touchdown of his abbreviated season
Robert Foster scores the first touchdown of his abbreviated season
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Foster’s college career probably hasn’t gone quite like the former five star was expecting.  He was the #1 recruit in Pennsylvania, the #2 WR, and the #23 overall player in the Class of 2013.  And he’s yet to really breakthrough.  Foster redshirted his first year and same limited action as a back-up in 2014.

With the departure of much of Alabama’s receiving production following that season, things were looking up in 2015, though; and he began the season as one of the Crimson Tide’s top two wide outs (along with ArDarius Stewart).  An early injury sidelined him for the majority of the season, but Foster has come back strong this spring.  He’ll have to earn playing time in one of the deepest receiving corps in the country, but there’s every reason to believe he can.


2nd and 9: Foster is out of view on the left of the formation.  Jake Coker sends Richard Mullaney in motion right-to-left (to Foster’s side).  It’s clearly trying to set up the screen to Foster, and he’s the only target Coker has in mind.  The Badgers have the corner who was initially on Foster, a linebacker shaded over to that side, and a safety drops down when Mullaney motions.  All this gives Wisconsin a 3-2 numbers advantage, plus Mullaney goes deep and doesn’t even think about blocking anyone.  Foster does a nice job of catching the ball with his hands out in front of his body, but he’s immediately smothered for a gain of one.

1st and 10: Foster is wide left with Mullaney in the slot on his side.  He motions in close to Mullaney, and Coker takes the snap.  It’s a run/pass option for Coker.  He sees a linebacker crash down hard, so he pulls it from Derrick Henry and looks to his now primary target of O.J. Howard.  Howard was in the backfield in an H-back role, and he ran behind the line before attempting to spill out into the flat.  He should’ve been open because of the blitzing linebacker, but #47 LB Vince Biegel saw the fake and identified what was happening.  He wraps his arm around Howard and covers him tight, taking away the easy pass.  Instead of trying to force a pass, Coker comes off Howard and looks downfield, spotting an open Foster on an intermediate crossing route.  Foster hauls it in for a first.

3rd and 11: Bama is in an odd formation.  It’s 21 personnel (two RBs, one TE) with both Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake on the field.  Henry is lined up in the slot on the left; and Drake starts in the backfield before motioning wide ride.  Coker takes the snap and has a short drop back before turning and firing to Foster, who’s waiting on the WR screen.  Henry immediately went towards the sideline to block the CB but whiffs.  Ross Pierschbacher came out from left guard but also whiffs on his block.  Foster, who again caught the ball in front of his body, has to slip in between the defenders and missed blocks; but LB Vince Biegel gets a hand on his ankle.  Foster does a good job getting yards, though.  Biegel makes contact at the Wisconsin 42, and Foster is downed at the 37.  It’s ultimately ruled 4th and 1, and Henry will burst through the line for the first touchdown of the season.

1st and 10: Alabama has four receivers (including tight ends O.J. Howard and Dakota Ball) bunched close to the line.  Foster is to the left with Howard, and Stewart is on the right with Ball.  Foster just runs another little crossing route, but he runs it well.  He cuts in front of the OLB before niftily slipping behind one of the ILBs.   The linebackers on the right lose track of him since he’s behind them, and the safety on that side flows with the cornerback on Dakota Ball.  Coker just has to bide his time until Foster hits that open patch; and boom, touchdown.  Alabama retakes the lead. Here's another shot.

1st and 10: Foster is wide left.  Drake motions right-to-left and takes the "pass" from Coker on the sweep.  Foster goes forward a couple yards and just obliterates the safety coming down.  He just knocks him off his feet, and the safety goes flying.  I love watching this block.

Middle Tennessee

1st and 10: Alabama has trips left with O.J. Howard as the lone receiver to the right and Henry in the backfield.  The Blue Raiders technically have three defenders on the three Bama receivers, but the safety has a long way to go if it’s a quick pass.  And it is.  Foster takes a step before before stopping and turning to Coker, who’s already in the process of throwing it his way.  ArDarius Stewart does a great job of walling his guy out of the play; and Mullaney disrupts the corner, who had taken a bad angle to the inside.  Foster turns on the jets and wins the race to the endzone.  Touchdown Alabama.

1st and 10: Bama is in 21 personnel with Kenyan Drake at the top of the screen next to Stewart.  Foster is at the bottom of the screen.  Drake motions left and takes the "pass" from Coker.  Foster moves forward looking for someone to block, and he picks up the safety, shoving his shoulder into the defensive back’s chest.  Not the prettiest block, but it gets the job done and takes the safety (#20) out of the play initially.  However, Drake got the edge and starts streaking down the sideline.  Foster has the awareness to see this and heads downfield.  He helps in the block of the defender ahead of Drake, but #20 catches up from behind and manages to trip Drake up just shy of the goalline.  Still, great hustle from Foster.

1st and 10: Foster and Stewart are the wideouts, with Foster on the left side.  The cornerback on Foster cheats in.  Coker sees this, and he sees him blitz after the snap.  This leaves a safety covering him from about 8-9 yards away.  Foster breaks well on his quick slant, and Coker fires it to him.  Foster does have to double catch it, but he hangs on as the safety makes contact and brings him to the ground.  6 yard gain.

4th and 4: Foster is wide left with Mullaney in the slot on his side while Stewart is wide right with O.J. Howard on the line next to the RT Dominick Jackson.  Middle Tennessee drops both safeties deep, and the cornerback on Foster is playing off.  Foster runs about four yards and breaks on his slant.  Coker throws a nice ball, and only Foster has a shot at it.  He catches it with his hands and maintains possession while falling to the ground.

2nd and 15: Bama is in the same formation as before.  Foster runs four yards past the line of scrimmage before stopping and turning to Coker, who has to throw with a defender falling into him.  The result is a high pass that forces Foster to jump, and he snags it away from his body.  Foster jukes the defensive back and gains almost 10 yards after catch, getting stopped just short of the first down.

Ole Miss

2nd and 8: Foster and Stewart are the two wideouts to the right, with Foster inside of Stewart.  Howard is at H-back behind TE Dakota Ball, who’s on the line next to Cam Robinson.  It’s a run/pass option; and Cooper Bateman correctly keeps it and passes to Howard.  Foster does a good job of tracking his man and lays a nice block on #38, taking him to the ground and springing Howard for a long gain.

4th and 2: Foster is wide left, and Mullaney and Stewart are to the right.  Mullaney motions to the left.  On the snap, Foster takes a step forward, plants, and immediately runs a shallow slant.  He’s got a step on the cornerback, but Bateman has poor ball placement, forcing Foster to leave his feet to catch it.  This allows the corner time to make the play, and Bama turns the ball over on downs.

3rd and 4: Foster is in tight to the left of the line, and Stewart are Howard are bunched in close to the right.  Foster runs a corner route and gets in between the linebacker and cornerback.  Bateman throws a high pass; but Foster climbs the ladder and comes down with it, despite taking a hard hit.  This is his last catch before the season-ending injury.  Here's a replay.

1st and 10: Jake Coker is now in after Bateman’s interception.  Both receivers are to the left, with Foster out wide and Stewart in the slot.  Coker fakes the handoff to Henry and looks down field to Foster on the post route.  It’s a one-on-one match-up against the cornerback, and the defender ends up winning.  The corner swats the ball away as Foster’s diving for it.  Foster came down hard and tore his rotator cuff, ending his season.