The Alabama football offense will survive the loss of Jaylen Waddle but will need more help from the Tide defense.
For the Alabama football offense, a near-catastrophic event occurred in the loss of Jaylen Waddle to injury. Against the Vols, the Crimson Tide offense appeared little changed. Slade Bolden both stepped in and stepped up.
The Crimson Tide sophomore is a smart, talented athlete. Comparisons to Hunter Renfro are not wrong, though Bolden is faster than the former Clemson star. Some Alabama football fans are ready to compare Bolden to NFL greats, Wesley Walker and Julian Edelman. Bolden has a long way to go to match those lofty comparisons.
As discussed in where the Tide looks for a No. 4 WR, there are options. Though less experienced than Bolden, one or more of the younger guys may have the speed and hands to be a deep-ball threat. Whoever is chosen by Holman Wiggins and Steve Sarkisian, the Alabama football offense still has many weapons. DeVonta Smith is probably in the top three of best-ever Crimson Tide receivers. John Metchie is rapidly becoming a star and is No. 2 in the FBS (minimum 2 games) in average yards-per-reception.
Still, there is no replacing Jaylen Waddle’s ability to make explosive plays. Arguably, Waddle was college football’s best in yards after a catch.
A less explosive Crimson Tide will need more help from the Alabama football defense. A bigger question for the Crimson Tide than any diminished offensive explosion is can the Tide defense improve enough for a championship run. Alabama football is No. 12 in the SEC in allowing opponents a first down on third down snaps. Only Florida and Auburn are worse. The Crimson Tide defense fails to get off the field after third down, 7.6 times per game. Such poor defensive performance puts added pressure on the offense.
The Crimson Tide’s defensive performances against Georgia and Tennessee showed improvement. Better, but not good enough. Against the Vols, Jordan Battle and Daniel Wright were badly beaten on long passes. Leaky safeties are not ingredients in a championship defense.
One reason, the Crimson Tide secondary is vulnerable is an ineffective pass rush. The Crimson Tide is tied at No. 81 in the FBS in sacks per game. Next to last in the SEC, the Tide has only seven in five games. There are other troubling defensive stats.
- Yards Allowed per Game – No. 10 in the SEC and No. 64 nationally at 427 yards
- Passing Yards Allowed – No. 11 in the SEC at 279.8 yards
- Rushing Yards Allowed per Game – No. 7 in the SEC at 147.2 yards
- Average Yards Allowed per Play- No. 64 in the FBS at 5.79 yards
In the remaining five, regular-season games, the Alabama football defense will battle the No. 2 passing team in the SEC (Mississippi State) and the No. 2 rushing team (Kentucky) and the No. 3 SEC team in total yards (LSU).
Last week Nick Saban reluctantly admitted,
"Good defense doesn’t beat good offense anymore"
Even with Saban’s admission, defense is still important. Scoring more than the other team works better when a defense gets some stops. The more the better.
Following the regular season, either a Georgia (again) or Florida offense will try to take advantage of the Tide’s defense. As potential CFB Playoff participants, Ohio State and Clemson are potent enough to put the Tide in shootout situations. Improved defensive performances will be needed for another Alabama football championship run.