If that fan, however, happened to follow the NFL, he or she might be aware of the likes of Julio Jones in Atlanta or Amari Cooper in Oakland, accomplished wide receivers who came out of the Alabama offense under Saban.
True, Alabama will run the football. But Saban loves the downfield passing game.
This year, the Crimson Tide passing statistics are a bit skewed because of Bama’s reliance on the jet sweep, technically a pass, but really not much different than the statue of liberty play from the leather helmet era.
With a freshman quarterback and an effective inside running game, Alabama has frequently used the jet sweep in which a receiver goes in motion towards the quarterback and takes a short pitch for what amounts to an end-around play. It is a high-percentage completion, and, like the Utah pass, if it’s muffed it’s merely an incompletion, not a fumble.
That is partly the reason Alabama receivers have averaged a pedestrian 12.1 yards per reception this year. Slot receiver Gehrig Dieter had one of the more unusual stat lines this year when he had three receptions for two touchdowns and a total of minus 1 receiving. He took an inside screen that lost three yards, and then later in the game caught two touchdown passes of one yard each.
One thing that does point out is that Alabama will pass the pass at the goal line.
Alabama will spread the ball around, but there are two main targets among the wide receivers.
Sophomore flanker Calvin Ridley (6-1, 188) is Alabama’s leading receiver for the second consecutive year. As a freshman last season he broke the freshman records of the aforementioned Mssrs. Jones and Cooper with 89 receptions (second all-time by a freshman in FBS competition) for 1,045 yards. He also leads the Tide this year with 66 receptions for 727 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Junior split end ArDarius Stewart (6-1, 204) is second in receptions this year with 52 and he’s first in yards with 852, averaging 16.4 yards per reception. He was also second in Bama receiving last year.
Junior split end Cam Sims, a large target at 6-5, 203, has been relied on more late in the season, as has true freshman Trevon Diggs (6-2, 195), a versatile athlete who also worked in the secondary late in the year.
Alabama Wide Receivers
Split End (X)
Ardarius Stewart (6-1, 204, Jr.)
Cameron Sims (6-5, 203, Jr.)
Trevon Diggs (6-2, 195, Fr.)
Calvin Ridley (6-1, 188, So.)
Robert Foster (6-2, 191, Jr.)
Derek Kief (6-4, 200, So.)
Gehrig Dieter (6-3, 207, G)
Xavian Marks (5-8, 166, So.)
Raheem Falkins (6-4, 200, Jr.)
There had been some question about the availability of Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin for the Peach Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal game against Washington on Dec. 31 in Atlanta. Kiffin was recently named head coach at Florida Atlantic University. It was announced that Kiffin would stay with Bama for the remainder of the season.
Alabama has traditionally had a balanced offense, but there have been games this year when the Tide has had big passing numbers — 351 against Western Kentucky, 315 against Kentucky, 397 against Mississippi State, and 298 against Auburn.