There were two fluky touchdowns during Alabama's scrimmage on Saturday.
DeVonta Smith was part of both.
On one, the four-star freshman wide receiver caught a pass after it had been tipped into the air by cornerback Trevon Diggs before running the rest of the way for a touchdown. On the other play, freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw a pass to Smith in the back of the end zone. Safety Hootie Jones was in front of Smith and tipped the ball with his right hand. But it bounced right to Smith, who secured the catch for a touchdown before stepping out of bounds.
While those two plays were unconventional, it was more of what Smith has done since enrolling at Alabama in May -- making plays and standing out.
"Speed," cornerback Anthony Averett said when asked about Smith's strengths. "And when the ball is in the air, he knows how to track the ball and go get it. He's good at that. I think that's his best thing."
Looks like the Alabama quarterbacks (Tua especially) are taking a page from the old Chad Kelly playbook of throwing touchdowns off of the opposing defenders....
That aside, by all accounts Devonta Smith continues to impress. I’ve said since he signed with the Tide that I expect him to redshirt this year due to the senior depth ahead of him and his 165-pound frame. However, it seems I’ve heard his name mentioned about every other week all season, and all the defensive backs seem to really respect his speed. The article also states that he’s had the lowest drop rate all summer (though I don’t know where those numbers came from). If he keeps it up, we just might see some of Smith in action this year.
Buzz from the scrimmage suggests the defense was impressive Saturday, and even left tackle Jonah Williams had trouble containing Alabama’s pass rush, led by outside linebacker Christian Miller. But asked about the run game, Bozeman had this to say.
“We opened up holes, and they hit ‘em,” he said.
All offseason long, Saban has said the obvious: the five best players will see the field. And his returning starters have echoed that philosophy when asked about the line’s right side.
“I’m not sure how it’s all going to sort out in the end, but there’s a lot of guys that are working hard and a lot of guys that are showing good things in practice,” Williams said. “I’m just excited about gelling as a unit. I definitely think we have all the ability in the world.”
It’s looking more and more like the coaches are set with Cotton at right guard and Womack at right tackle. Though, last year they also seemed set with Ross Pierschbacher at center until the last minute.
In any case, Bozeman seems pretty pumped about the running game. And considering they were running against a defensive line of Da’Ron Payne, D’Shawn Hand, and Raekwon Davis, that seems to be quite the feat. Add an improved run blocking line to a running back stable of Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, and Najee Harris, and it’s almost enough to make me think that the passing game is irrelevant anyway.
Known as two of the strongest players on Alabama’s 2017 roster, the center and nose tackle both boast bench-press maxes of more than 500 pounds. And at this current point in time, one of them has a slight edge over the other in the weight room.
“Right now? Da'Ron,” Bozeman said when he was asked who was the strongest between himself and Payne, a junior. “I think we did 500. I did it twice. He got it three times.”
According to AL.com, Payne bench-pressed 545 pounds during the Crimson Tide’s spring testing in addition to squatting 635 pounds and a team-best 365-pound power clean. When he met with reporters this preseason, he said his max is up to 550.
As for how many reps of 225 pounds the pair can do, Payne said he hasn’t tried the infamous NFL Scouting Combine workout since his days at Shades Valley (Ala) High School.
The entire team seems to agree that either Payne or Bozeman is the strongest on the team, with back up guard Deonte Brown a solid third. That has got to be some epic battles between the nose tackle and center in practices and scrimmages. After facing each other all the time, other teams probably feel weak up the middle to the two of them.
As for the 225 reps at the NFL combine, going for high reps is much different than being able to power life a high max. The first emphasizes muscle stamina and strength, while the second is more a one-time explosion of strength. Both have their uses in game, but most athletes are going to be better at one or the other. If Payne hasn’t been working at high rep, low weight, then don’t expect him to blow the combine out of the water in that test.
Alabama Football: Robert Foster, ‘one thing I never want to do is quit’
Last winter Robert Foster and Alabama football came close to parting ways. As part of the 2013 signing class, Foster was expected to have an exciting Crimson career. Through 2016, those expectations had failed to materialize.
Foster spent 2013 as a redshirt. He saw limited action in 2014. 2015 started off well for Foster but he was injured in the third game of the season. In 2016, he again saw limited action.
Robert Foster and his mother talked to Nick Saban about his football future. Robert came close to a decision to transfer. But he didn’t quit. He stayed. He decided quitting was not an option.
Here are Robert’s thoughts as reported by the Montgomery Advertiser,
“Things aren’t supposed to happen every time you want it happen. The thing for everybody is to be patient. God got a plan for everybody. So just take advantage of your opportunity when the time comes.”
I don’t know a single Alabama fan out there that isn’t cheering for Foster to finally have his break-through season this year. He’s fought through a lot over the years where many would have given up long ago, yet he’s stayed humble and determined, and is now on the cusp of finally being the player we’ve been waiting to see for three years.
I hope to see a lot of him and Ridley taking the top off of opposing defenses with their blazing speed and Jalen Hurts’ new and improved deep ball.
Alabama has done well recruiting in Louisiana during the Saban era. But Saban took his Pelican State recruiting efforts to another level in the class of 2017. Call it the Great Raid of Louisiana.
Time will tell just how good the Louisiana natives in the 2017 class will turn out to be, but the guys certainly look the part and have earned positive reviews.
Linebacker Chris Allen doesn’t look like a freshman. Wide receiver Devonta Smith is earning the respect of his teammates. Defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs will be counted on this season. Linebacker Dylan Moses also doesn’t look like a freshman and is learning quickly. Phidarian Mathis is a young defensive lineman that shows promise. Joseph Bulovas is competing for a starting job at kicker.
Buggs and Smith could earn roles this year while Allen and Moses are extremely talented linebackers that seem to have tons of potential.
The great raid of Louisiana will be felt far past 2017.
This is a good read from Aaron Suttles.
There are few things I like more than the yearly raid of top recruits from Louisiana. Not a whole lot of insight from me to offer here, but man it feels great to steal from right under LSU’s nose. You know how mad it makes them.