Alabama football fans have a concern to be voiced to Crimson Tide, Head Coach, Nick Saban.
Guarding against being presumptuous, this message to Alabama Football, Head Coach, Nick Saban is not a memo. It is not even a request. It is, rather, a plea from Alabama football fans.
Nick Saban as the ‘Decider’ is recognized by every Crimson Tide fan. His success in Tuscaloosa qualifies him for being above reproach. We do not want to be like Skip Bayless, Paul Finebaum, Clay Travis and others who throw dirt at Nick to get attention.
But, we are concerned – very concerned. Having Jaylen Waddle as a punt returner made us uneasy. We embraced it because, along with David Palmer and Javier Arenas, Waddle was (and just may be again) possibly the greatest punt returner in Crimson Tide history.
So far, Alabama football has overcome the loss of its most explosive player. Steve Sarkisian deserves credit for his balanced offense that has not slipped without Jaylen.
Alabama football fans were content with Slade Bolden returning punts. He is smart and has good hands. Bolden is better than adequate. Bolden will probably be back for the Auburn Tigers. His return would be a relief to Tide fans.
Last Saturday, when Bolden went out with a banged-up ankle, the Crimson Tide Nation shuddered to see DeVonta Smith in a punt return role. Not that Smitty isn’t a punt return threat. Next to Waddle, Smith probably has the best skills for the job.
The problem is Smitty CANNOT be lost to injury. Having him return punts increases the injury risk. It is widely known Nick Saban does not think like fans. The program would be in trouble if he did. Nick has always used many of his best players on special teams. Saban is correct that the odds of injury do not significantly increase from several kick coverages and kick returns.
Speaking for many Alabama football fans, we don’t want any added risk, even if the increased amount is less than one percent.
Pick another guy like Bolden to be the backup punt returner. Poise, field awareness and good hands are enough for us. Don’t use Smitty and don’t use Patrick Surtain II either. There must be a backup receiver, running back or defensive back who returned punts in high school.
As long as we are making our case, isn’t there someone other than Mac Jones who can hold on extra points and field goals? Aren’t Bolden or some other Tide player capable of holding and being a fake, field goal threat? While we are at it, can Joseph Bulovas take over for Reichard on kickoffs? If not, Reichard should sprint to the sideline immediately after every kickoff.