Alabama Football: An Abundance of Offensive Weapons

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama football has taken an interesting offensive approach this season. The Tide has utilized an attack so balanced that it is difficult to guess who might be the team’s statistical leaders on a game-to-game basis.

This may make some Alabama football fans uncomfortable. Tide fans are accustomed to superstars such as Derrick Henry, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, Najee Harris, and Jameson Williams. These players could be counted on to provide a baseline amount of production on a night-in and night-out basis. The 2022 team simply might not have that kind of player.

Through five games, Alabama football has had four different players lead the team in rushing yards (Bryce Young, Jase McClellan twice, Roydell Williams, and Jahmyr Gibbs). In that same time period, it has had four different players lead the team in receiving yards (Traeshon Holden, Jahmyr Gibbs twice, Ja’Corey Brooks, and Kobe Prentice).

The Arkansas game this past weekend was the greatest example of this diffusion of offense production.

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In the previous week, sophomore receiver Ja’Corey Brooks had exploded against Vanderbilt in the best performance of his career. Brooks posted the first 100-yard receiving game from an Alabama receiver all season, and added two touchdowns. The Alabama fan base felt as though the receiver room had finally found its alpha and go-to guy. Ja’Corey Brooks then did not record a single catch against Arkansas.

Traeshon Holden entered the game as Alabama’s leader in receiving yards, and was by far its most consistent receiver. He was the only Alabama wideout to have at least three receptions in every game, and had scored four touchdowns in four games. Holden was largely a non-factor against the Razorbacks, recording just two catches for 14 yards.

Junior receiver Jermaine Burton was anticipated by many to be Alabama’s best receiver this season. Coming off of a 94-yard performance against Vanderbilt, Burton made just one catch for 14 yards against Arkansas. Senior tight end Cameron Latu, the leading returning receiver heading into the 2021 season, made zero catches against the Hogs.

Given this information, one would assume that Alabama’s passing offense was completely shut down by Arkansas. Even playing with two different quarterbacks in the game, this was not the case.

Instead, freshman receiver Kobe Prentice burst onto the scene to lead the Tide in receptions and yards for the first time this season. Prentice and sophomore receiver Jojo Earle both scored their first career touchdowns in the game, and freshman Isaiah Bond was a turf monster away from doing the same.

Alabama Football: Gibbs goes off

The Crimson Tide running game produced a similar situation. Junior running backs Roydell Williams and Jase McClellan had combined to lead Alabama in rushing for three of the first four games. The duo netted just 28 yards on 11 carries against Arkansas.

Meanwhile, Jahmyr Gibbs had previously been a bigger threat as a pass-catcher than as a ball-carrier. The Georgia Tech transfer, who technically starts at running back, entered the Arkansas game with more receiving yards than rushing yards, and had never led the Tide in rushing in a game.

He responded to Williams and McClellan’s ineffectiveness by going for a career-high 206 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, backup quarterback Jalen Milroe also ran for a career-high 91 yards and scored his first career rushing touchdown.

New weapons are seemingly popping up every week for this Alabama offense. The lack of consistent production from established playmakers may be stressful for fans to get accustomed to. However, the resulting unpredictability has become a strength for an Alabama offense that ranks fourth in the nation averaging 48.4 points per game.

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The unit continues to put up numbers regardless of who is leading the team in rushing and receiving, or even who is playing quarterback.