Even in ULM blowout, Alabama football looks underwhelming at wide receiver| Goodbread
To watch the play live was to perceive it in slow-motion, unfolding like acts in a play with an intermission thrown in for added suspense.
Twelve seconds came off the clock − an eternity for a pass play − when Alabama football quarterback Bryce Young took a snap with 11:39 left in the first quarter of Saturday's 63-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe, and was finally intercepted by ULM's Tristan Driggers at 11:27. Young wandered around a massive patch of grass with so much time to throw, the word pocket does it no justice.
It was more like a corral, but with nary a Warhawk inside the fence line.
After surveying every imaginable receiver at least once, the Heisman Trophy winner launched a deep ball in the direction of freshman receiver Isaiah Bond; and the pass, a bit underthrown, didn't nearly reach its mark.
The point here isn't to zero in on a mistake by Young, who had an effective day otherwise. Young is proven effective. His wide receiving corps isn't, and whether or not that group will be able to separate from more talented defensive backs when Young has far less time to throw than he did on the aforementioned play is a legitimate concern as the Crimson Tide enters SEC play next weekend.
To be fair, it's not a unit that's been fully revealed yet. Unlike, for instance, an experienced group of running backs or a linebacking corps that is largely familiar to even casual Alabama fans, the receivers aren't yet on full display.
ALABAMA-ULMKey action from the Alabama-ULM game
JoJo Earle, who flashed impressively at times last season, is at least a couple weeks away from returning from injury. Tyler Harrell, the blazing-fast transfer from Louisville, hasn't seen a snap yet with a foot injury of his own. And Jermaine Burton, the transfer from Georgia who was Alabama's most consistent receiver in offseason preparation, hasn't yet established himself as a primary go-to for Young.
Young's longest completion of the day, and his lone deep ball completed in stride, went to tight end Cam Latu for 38 yards. The wideouts made some explosive plays as well, but clearly enough, this isn't another the wave of first-round draft picks at wide receiver that previous Alabama quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones enjoyed. The quartet of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith was arguably the most gifted collection of four receivers ever seen on one college team.
This isn't that.
And it doesn't have to be that for the Crimson Tide offense to succeed. But it does have to be a more explosive, more consistent, and generally more effective group. This era of college football, in which even the very best defenses are ceding yardage and touchdowns like never before, demands it.
Louisiana-Monroe wasn't the opponent against which Alabama's receivers could prove themselves as championship-caliber, nor was it an opponent capable of proving they aren't.
But those games are forthcoming.
And opposing defensive backfields will be in challenge mode.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread