So much for some of the preseason doom and gloom prognostications. College football, as we saw with the pro leagues, has by and large done a great job of testing, quarantining, contact tracing, and mitigating the ‘Rona
There is a little doom, to be sure: About three dozen games have been lost or rescheduled; players are opting out or have suffered catastrophic injury; there’s an unlevel playing field conference-by-conference in terms of timing and number of games to played; and standouts on some teams being ignored because of their lack of preseason hype or having the wrong jersey.
The half-full view of that glass is that we’re getting football at all; it has not been as disruptive as expected; programs are mostly handling the WuFlu well; there are some outstanding teams and individual players; Alabama is again competitive for a national title — indeed looks to have its best shot in two seasons at one. But, there there already been some surprises already: Like Mac Jones, like a weirdly-dominant Coastal Carolina team, like an LSU team that sucks even more that we thought it might.
And, since it’s a wacky game played by college kids using an oblate spheroid prone to weird bounces, I suspect we’re not done being surprised either. Without further ado, here are our midseason grades and individual awards for the 2020 College Football season.
Quarterbacks — A/A-
This would be an A+, but we simply don’t get to see what Bryce Young can do. As long as he is being trotted out with the second team versus opponents’ starters, his development is being stunted. And in his limited appearances he has consequently struggled. That is the only demerit here. As for Mac Jones...well, we’ll have much more to say on him later.
Running Backs — A+
No, Alabama doesn’t have the nation’s leading rusher, its leading running game, doesn’t lead in YPC, or lead in other statistical categories — save one: Najee Harris leads the nation in position player scoring. He is as automatic as it comes. If this offense ever needs to ride his shoulders, he’s shown he can bear the load. And he is criminally unfair as a receiver. Brian Robinson is running better and angrier than he ever has before. And Trey Sanders looks much more comfortable the more reps he gets. He will be involved much more down the stretch. If I need 4 yards on the ground, give me Najee over anyone else in the country.
Offensive Line — A-
There is a lot to love about the actual performance on the field. The Tide is 3rd in total offense, 3rd in third-down conversions, leads the nation at 7.95 YPP, is first in the nation in points per game (47.2), and has pounded in 18 rushing touchdowns — this group is the reason why. Yes, they’ve allowed 10 sacks this season, but part of that is Mac Jones’ lesser mobility, and part of it is that Alabama has now faced three of the SEC’s top five defenses, and two of those are in the Top 5 nationally. Tough draw for anyone. The penalties are killing me though, y’all...especially the pre-snap variety. That, and sacks allowed, are the only reasons to dock this group. If Alabama doesn’t win the Joe Moore award this season, stop giving it.
Wide Receivers — A/A+
Ignore the gaudy statistics (and they are plentiful), there is not a better route-running team in the nation. There is god-given talent on the field, sure. But even Damascus steel had to be honed to be turn into legendary weapons. If there’s an underrated coach on this staff, it’s Holmon Wiggins...and I give him a shout-out about once a game on the Twitter machine for good reason.
Look at this filth:
This is where we again sing the praises of @HolmonWiggins.— Roll ‘Bama Roll (@rollbamaroll) November 1, 2020
There is not a team in the country that runs better routes than the Crimson Tide.
The difference between Alabama and other teams with talented receiving corps is that these are routes for Sundays.
Every snap. https://t.co/zDe4hS29F5
There is not a secondary in the country that can cover these guys, even with Jaylen Waddle’s absence. We would like to see Baker gets some PT and especially would like to see far more big plays out of Slade Bolden though. The 2020 offense was designed to put 17 in motion and move him around; but until 18 can put the fear of god in teams, the offense is less vertical, less aggressive, and easier to scheme around.
Offensive Coaching: A+
There’s not a thing to say about this staff, except 1. It is as perfect as it comes, 2. Please don’t leave, and 2. When Nick Saban retires, we are (I think) unanimously pro-Sark. The man is an offensive genius in an offensive era, he recruits outstandingly well, players love him, he has the right pedigree, he knows the program and culture now, and he has far less downside or risk than someone like Lane Kiffin (though I do adore Dreamy LMFK). Kyle Flood (OLC), Holmon Wiggins (WRC), and Charles Huff (RBC) have been just as dominant in their job performance as Steve MF Sarkisian.
Midseason Offensive Player of the Year:
Mac Jones (QB). Wanna’ know what kind of year Mac is having? Last week he hit 79.4% of his passes, threw for four touchdowns, and his passer rating dropped. He is on track to shatter Tua and Joe Burrow’s various record-setting performances in terms of efficiency. He leads the nation in passes completed over 30 yards, and in completion percentage for passes thrown over 30 yards. He is Vegas’ Heisman front-runner, and is rapidly playing himself into first round consideration. Najee gets strong consideration here, of course. So does Smitty, but Jones is the V16 inside this Bugatti Veyron...even if he does make DeVonta Smith play DB about 2-3 times a game. Mac has been a bit overly aggressive of late, trying to force plays when they are not there. But, when a guy is playing this unconsciously, there’s not an offensive coaching staff in the nation who’s going to tell him not to sling it.
Midseason Unheralded Offensive Player of the Year:
Landon Dickerson (C). When big, nasty Landon Dickerson is in the game, this team takes on a completely new identity. For a passing offense, it’s the most physical one you’ll see — and Landon is the reason why. The guy is just hateful. He is spite in a crimson jersey. He is strong enough to rub out opposing nose players without a double (he squats a third of a ton). He is always looking for someone else to hit; he is keeping Jones’ jersey clean; and he is the undoubted leader of an offensive line that has taken on a far more blue collar identity in 2020. Even better, he has cut down on last season’s drive-killing penalties — especially those personal fouls — without losing his edge.
LD69 is not the most athletic center in the country. He is a little stiff in the hips and with his lateral movement. But he is probably the most powerful, and for a such a big man, he gets that #butt low, fires off the ball, and gets his hands inside of defenders’ pads. That’s all it takes. The rest is sheer anger. He the nation’s highest-graded center through six games for a reason. Some young NFL quarterback is going to love having this enforcer on the squad (please, Miami, please).
LD69 is going to have defensive linemen drawing so many personal fouls in the NFL. He is going to be a hated man for a decade, like Mark Schlereth. https://t.co/5wSKQHi0uk— Roll ‘Bama Roll (@rollbamaroll) October 26, 2020
Feel free to chime in below:
Was there anyone you’d rather name as our MVP?
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How would you grade the position units so far?
Include all the positional units and coaching staff, and grade the Alabama offense
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