It wouldn’t be possible to talk about the Tide’s offense without starting with their sophomore quarterback, Bryce Young. As much as there is momentum for a defensive player to win the Heisman, the consensus currently is that voters will vote as they historically do — for a quarterback.
The Alabama offensive line has come under constant criticism this year with its inability to protect Young from pressure.
In a particularly inept performance in the first three quarters of the Iron Bowl, Young completed 12-of-26 passes for 138 yards and one interception. Compare that with the final quarter where Young completed 12-of-22 passes for two touchdowns — quite a transformation.
Young can produce when his offensive line protects him, and that is a big IF going into the SEC Championship Game. During the Auburn game, Alabama made adjustments to the offensive line bringing Chris Owens and Seth McLaughlin into the game, which helped the line become more aggressive.
However, Alabama only made those changes after Young was sacked seven times in the first half.
Despite the criticism, Young has had some stand-out performances. Against Arkansas, he broke the school record by throwing five touchdowns for 559 passing yards. Young has thrown for 3,901 yards and 40 touchdowns throughout the season with four interceptions. The claims for Young as a Heisman winner are valid and strong.
The Iron Bowl proved that the Bama offense shuts down if you stop Young. It was evident in the first three quarters, similar to Bama’s game against Texas A&M that by pressurizing the pocket, the young quarterback struggles to complete passes.
However, as a warning to Georgia fans, when Young came alive in the fourth quarter, he used his legs to escape that pressure. This is a very different Young to the pocket passer offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien prefers. So when Young moves, the Georgia defensive line needs to be alert to this threat.
He has built up a good relationship with wideouts Jameson Williams and John Metchie III. Despite being ejected in the first half of the Iron Bowl — on kickoff return coverage bizarrely — Willians will not miss out on starting in the SEC Championship Game, which brings up our next player to watch out for on Saturday.