Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Young receivers' play frustrates Saban
By Edward Aschoff
Alabama coach Nick Saban isn't much for being shy.
He's pretty matter-of-fact and when it came to talking about his young wide receivers after the season-opener against Kent State he didn't really hold back his frustration about their play.
"I don't think they played fast all the time," Saban said.
"I think there was a lot of anxiety. I don't think we had very good ball security. I don't think we looked balls in. I think we played in a hurry -- cut the routes a little bit short, don't do it exactly right, which sort of affects the timing of what you're trying to do and makes it a little bit more difficult for everybody."
Despite some issues in the receiving game, Alabama's quarterbacks still passed for 299 yards on 21 completions in the 48-7 win over the Golden Flashes. Eight of those catches and 118 of those yards came from senior Marquis Maze. He also had Alabama's lone receiving touchdown.
Outside of Maze, six receivers/tight ends combined for nine more catches. Four of them and 44 yards came from freshman DeAndrew White, who earned a lot of praise from his coaches and teammates during the preseason. With his speed, White has what it takes to be a deep threat for the Tide. He's also an elusive runner, which should continue to make him one of the Tide's top receiving options going forward.
Running backs Eddie Lacy and Trent Richardson combined for the rest of the 92 yards, with Lacy grabbing 76 yards and Richardson getting 16.
Alabama will be able to get away with dumping passes off to its running backs from time to time, but in order for this offense to take the next step with its young quarterbacks in AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims, Tide receivers will have to step their game up.
"A lot of players are going to learn a lot from that game, and I think it will help their performance in the future," Saban said.
What will help the future is that heralded junior college transfer and former Ohio State receiver Duron Carter is expected to play this weekend. Carter finally joined the team last week after he was held out because of transcript issues.
Once Carter, the son of NFL great Cris Carter, gets into the proper football shape, he should provide a big spark in the passing game. Check out some of his highlights circulating around the Internet when you get a chance. He has "big-play" written all over him.
And things should improve after Week 2 when senior Darius Hanks returns. Hanks had to sit out the first two games because he registered five plays in one game as a redshirt freshman.
The passing game wasn't the prettiest to look at, but it will get better.