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Alabama Football Film Review: Blake Barnett vs. USC

Lost in much of the hype over Jalen Hurts's admittedly impressive performance is that Blake Barnett looked pretty darn good, too.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban said that either Cooper Bateman or Blake Barnett would probably start against USC, and Blake Barnett it was. However, the redshirt freshman was in for just two series before making way for the true freshman Jalen Hurts, who would remain in until after the outcome was decided.

Barnett started out a little shaky but seemed to have settled down by the time he reentered the game late in the 3rd quarter. He wasted no time in making sure the quarterback battle was still, in fact, a battle. Hurts stole the show against the Trojans, but Barnett is still in the thick of things.

1st and 10: Barnett handed off to Stewart on a sweep that gained a first down on the opening play. Here, Alabama is in the pistol but keeps its 12 personnel on the field. O.J. Howard and Calvin Ridley are bunched on the left while Miller Forristall and ArDarius Stewart are bunched on the right. Ridley is motioning right on the snap. It’s an RPO (run/pass option) for Barnett, and he sees Bama has a numbers advantage now on the right. He pulls the ball and throws it to Ridley, who drops it. It wasn’t a perfectly-placed pass, but Ridley should have caught this.

3rd and 5: Alabama goes to its familiar 11 personnel. Stewart and Gehrig Dieter are off to the right while Ridley is wide left. Howard is on the left near the line, and Harris is in the backfield. Howard runs a quick out route, but the safety reacts quickly. Too quickly for Ridley’s in route to provide the pick they were hoping for, and the safety is tackling Howard as he’s catching it.

3rd and 2: It's the 3rd quarter, and Barnett is back in. Bama’s in the pistol with Bo Scarbrough as the running back. It’s an option, and Barnett chooses to give it to Scarbrough, who churns forward through the line for just enough to pick up the first. The linebacker crashed down on Scarbrough, so Hale Hentges picked him up. However, Barnett should have kept it here and taken off the open space.

2nd and 4: Barnett’s operating out of the shotgun with one tight end on each the line and one receiver out wide on each side. Stewart is on the right, and this is Barnett’s initial read. It’s one-on-one with the CB Iman Marshall, but Marshall is right on top of him. Barnett comes back to the left and spots Howard one-on-one down the seam against the safety Chris Hawkins. He rifles a pass and hits Howard for a 40 yard gain. Outstanding job of drawing the safety to one side with his eyes before coming back to the other side.

1st and goal: Calvin Ridley motions left to right to join Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart on the right. Barnett rolls this way (Bo Scarbrough lays an excellent block on the linebacker, by the way), but the Trojans have it covered well. The talented LB Cameron Smith is also flying in; so, instead of trying to force a throw that isn’t there, Barnett cuts inside of Smith and takes off. He only gets a couple yards, but he protected the ball and still gained sometime. Considering the knock on him from reports out of the practices and scrimmages was that he had too many turnovers, this was nice to see.

1st and 10: Bama’s in the pistol with 12 personnel. Cam Sims is wide left, but he motions in some towards the line on Barnett’s cue. I’ve noticed on several previous plays, the corner would go from press to off coverage when this happened. And that’s just what Iman Marshall does. Barnett takes the snap and immediately turns to his right and guns it to Sims on a slant route. Because of the cushion Marshall was now giving him, it’s an easy pitch and catch for a first down.

1st and 10: Alabama’s back to 11 personnel. Robert Foster is the receiver to the left while Stewart is wide right with Dieter in the slot. Barnett fakes the handoff to B.J. Emmons and looks deep. The line blocks well, and he has plenty of time to wait for Dieter’s route to develop. Barnett fires a somewhat wobbly pass but hits Dieter in stride for the touchdown.