18 Years since Alabama started a season with an incomplete pass on its first play. In the Crimson Tide’s season-opening game against Missouri on Saturday, QB Mac Jones couldn’t connect with WR Jaylen Waddle on Alabama’s first snap of the season. In the Tide’s 2002 season-opener against Middle Tennessee, QB Tyler Watts failed to complete his throw to WR Triandos Luke on the Tide’s first snap.
That’s it. Mac Jones is benched. Breaking an 18-year streak of no incomplete passes on the first play of the season is a fireable offense, and Bryce Young is the starter from here on out.
Of course, the context behind that is that 15 of the last 18 years have opened the season with a rushing play, rather than a pass. In fact, the last time Alabama had attempted one was in 2014, where Blake Sims tossed one to Amari Cooper against West Virginia.
Harris moved into 13th place on Alabama’s all-time rushing list in Saturday’s 38-19 win over Missouri, passing Eddie Lacy. At 2,475 career rushing yards, Harris is within striking distance of several Tide greats, although he would need another 1,117 yards during this shortened season to pass Derrick Henry for most in school history.
Harris, though, has other motivations this season.
“I didn’t think about that,” he said about making Alabama history as a rusher. “I didn’t even know I was on track to do that until I got tagged in something after the game. It ain’t really a goal. It’s not really my personal goal.
“My personal goal is to become more of a spokesman person. Because I suck at that with my teammates. I’m not really the type of guy to be in front of people and, like, talk. I’m not really that type of guy. I like talking to people 1-on-1 more. I like being that type of guy. I try [to] be a better teammate right now, really. It’s not really about numbers.”
Good stuff here from Najee. He’s been a premier player for Alabama for nearly four years now, so getting to see him as one of the faces of the program to the media as a senior has been extremely gratifying as a fan.
He’s going to have to average 125 rushing yards/game to pass Derrick Henry on the career list at Alabama, which seems unlikely. Though that number could push down to 93 per game if the Tide makes it to the National Championship, which is definitely doable. At the very least, he should definitely pass up Damien Harris, Trent Richardson, and Mark Ingram to make it to 6th.
Now as a sophomore, Battle sees himself moving into a new role, that of leader and mentor. “This year has to be more of a leadership role,” he said. “I’m a starter now, so I have to be more vocal out there.”
He was asked about his work with freshman Malachi Moore, he said, “Malachi is learning quick, on the fly, like every other freshman, so everything is going pretty well right now.”
A year ago Bama had a defensive backfield full of veterans and Battle said, “Guys like Shyheim (Carter), Jared Mayden, Xavier McKinney, they all taught me very well. I was coming in on third down last year, learning and taking notes from them and what they were doing. That’s what made me become a better player back there — and better leader.”
Like Harris, sophomore safety Jordan Battle is working on becoming more of a leader for the team. As a first-year starter with significant experience as a role player last year, Battle is in a weird position of technically being new to the starting line-up, but also a bit of a veteran compared to a lot of players on the defense in terms of playing time.
Look for him to continue improving all year, and he’ll likely be THE guy on defense in 2021.
While Mond and the entire Texas A&M offense struggled to gain cohesiveness against the Commodores, getting a team motivated and excited for Alabama should be no difficult task for Jimbo Fisher and the rest of the Aggies coaching staff.
While Alabama sophomore defensive back Jordan Battle brought up Mond’s strengths on Tuesday, he also said that he expects his defense to perform well against him.
“Of course he’s a great quarterback,” Battle said. “He scrambles outside of the pocket [and] he he keeps his eyes downfield when he’s scrambling, so that makes him even more tough. We know we play pretty good in the scrambling quarterback game, so we should play very well against this guy.”
Watch out for Mond to be solid.
The game was over, but Missouri’s Shawn Robinson stepped in and hit 19-of-25 passes against the Tide secondary. Mond doesn’t have to go KJ Costello and bomb away, but he’s a good enough veteran to settle in and keep things moving just enough to make the game a battle.
A fired up A&M team will be far, far stronger than it was last week, but the Alabama running game will take over in the second half. Jones will be strong enough to keep the Tide offense moving when it has to.
Of all the ways to go with a prediction for this upcoming game of two top-ten SEC teams, predicting Kellen Mond to be “solid” because Missouri had some offensive success against Alabama’s back-ups is a bit.... uhhh.... I’m not even sure the right adjective here.
Will the A&M defense cause some problems for the Tide? Absolutely. So could the Aggie running game. But their passing attack? That’s a bold move.
Players opting out of the season has become a trend for Texas A&M, and coach Jimbo Fisher announced another one on Monday.
DB Clifford Chattman has opted out of the season, and evidently did so before the Vanderbilt game. Fisher also added that OL Luke Matthews and WR Hez Jones are injured. Chattman is the sixth Aggie to opt out this season.
I mean. The Aggies did hold the vaunted Vanderbilt offense to only 12 points without defensive back Clifford Chattman, so I suppose this isn’t a back-breaker for them.
The Crimson Tide offered the four-star ball carrier in the summer of 2019 before hosting him on campus back in January prior the coronavirus shutdown.
Along with Alabama, a number of programs have extended offers to the 5-foot-9.5, 200-pounder, including Nebraska, Penn State, and South Carolina beyond just his top four.
James told 247Sports’ Ryan Callahan that a decision could be made soon.
“I think my decision will be made by the end of the calendar year,” he said in August. “It’s not that I want to get done with it. I feel like there’s no point in (waiting). If you know where you want to go, then you know where you want to go. If you don’t, then you don’t.
“I feel like I’ll know where I want to go by then.”
In recruiting news, Alabama is making a press for one of the top running backs in the 2020 class. And stealing him right out of Tennessee’s backyard would just be.... *chef’s kiss*
That’s all for today. I’ll have a preview of the Aggie offense coming up later, so stay tuned!