Alabama Football has a problem replacing its receptions leader for the Playoffs. An ACL injury to John Metchie III during the Georgia game means the Tide star is lost for the season. The tandem of Metchie and Jameson Williams has accounted for 2,587 of the Crimson Tide’s 4,523 receiving yards. John Metchie produced 1,142 of those yards and led the Crimson Tide with 96 receptions.
After Metchie and Williams, the next most productive Crimson Tide receiver has been Slade Bolden with 32 catches for 332 yards. Bolden, while a solid player, is a possession receiver. His skills are not equal to those of John Metchie.
The injury provides a big boost to the Cincinnati defense. The Bearcats’ cornerbacks are highly respected. and the top one, Ahmad Gardner will be a high NFL Draft pick. Without Metchie to worry about, safety help can be provided, in trying to contain Jameson Williams’ explosive plays. The defensive game plan for the Bearcats can now be to double Jameson and make other Tide receivers combine to produce Metchie-like numbers. Less experienced Tide receivers will be challenged by a Bearcats secondary that is made solid by more than Gardner.
Which Alabama Football Receivers Step Up
The good news is the Tide’s backup receivers are a highly talented group. They just don’t have much experience. And other than Ja’Corey Brooks’ heroics in the Iron Bowl, the backups have little big-game, pressure situation experience.
Looking to the Crimson Tide tight end group for more catches is a partial solution. Jahleel Billingsley and Cameron Latu are good athletes and above-average receivers. Both have had a somewhat troubling number of drops during the season.
The Alabama Football receiver options to replace Metchie’s production are listed below, in order of their receiving stats for the season.
- Cameron Latu – 20 receptions for 299 yards and six touchdowns
- Jahleel Billingsley – 16 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns
- Traeshon Holden – 15 receptions for 211 yards and one touchdown
- JoJo Earle – 12 receptions for 148 yards. Earle has a chance to return for the Playoffs.
- Javon Baker – seven receptions for 101 yards and one touchdown
- Ja’Corey Brooks – five receptions for 79 yards and one (big) touchdown
- Christian Leary – two receptions for four yards and one touchdown
- Thaiu Jones-Bell – two receptions for 16 yards
- Agiye Hall – one reception for 10 yards
- Robbie Ouzts – one reception for eight yards. Ouzts is primarily a blocker. Out for the Georgia game, Ouzts is expected to return for the Playoffs?
In addition, Brian Robinson, Trey Sanders, and now Christian Leary are receiving threats coming out of the backfield.
Another possibility is against the Bearcats, the Crimson Tide should have considerable success on the ground. Bryce Young should not have to ring up big numbers to beat Cincinnati.