Alabama Football facing a familiar foe

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football is set to host Texas in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday evening in a top-15 showdown that will serve as college football’s week two headliner.

Having recruited very well in recent years (back-to-back top-5 classes), the Longhorns are loaded with blue-chip talent.

However, it is possible that Texas’ greatest weapon never steps off the sideline. Head coach (and former Alabama offensive coordinator) Steve Sarkisian is one of the more brilliant minds in the college game, excelling at scheming opposing defenses into unfavorable, or even unwinnable, situations.

Alabama Football fans will remember how efficiently the 2020 Bama offense operated under Sarkisian, culminating in an offensive masterclass against Ohio State in the national championship game.

Given the talent that he has at his disposal in Austin, Sark will be a formidable opponent for the Tide this Saturday. He may not have a Najee Harris or a Devonta Smith, but an argument could be made that Texas has the best collection of skill players in college football in 2023. The Texas receiving corps is particularly impressive.

Junior Xavier Worthy is one of the fastest players in the country. He burst onto the scene in 2021, and made at least 60 receptions in each of his first two seasons. After his sophomore year, Worthy had already amassed over 1,700 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns. The deep threat made five receptions for 97 yards against Alabama in 2022.

Georgia transfer AD Mitchell has struggled to stay healthy, but has been clutch when he has been on the field. Mitchell made just seven touchdown receptions in two years at Georgia, but four of those scores came in College Football Playoff games. He also scored a touchdown against Rice in his first game in a Texas uniform.

Senior Jordan Whittington is an elite possession receiver. Built more like a running back, his physicality gave the Tide some problems last season. Whittington has over 100 career receptions, including seven grabs for 64 yards against Alabama last year. He often serves as a bailout option for Texas QB Quinn Ewers, and should play a huge role on third downs this weekend.

Another safety valve is tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, one of the more athletic playmakers at his position in college football. Sanders was Texas’ second-leading receiver last season with 54 grabs, 613 yards, and five scores, but was a non-factor against Alabama Football. He already has a touchdown reception this year, and could potentially cause some matchup issues for the Tide.

Should Malachi Moore suit up and play the star for Bama this week, he may be regularly assigned to Ja’Tavion Sanders.

Former Wyoming transfer Isaiah Neyor gives Texas another perimeter weapon. He missed last season with an injury and has yet to make an impact for Texas, but Neyor is big and fast on the edge and is someone the Alabama defense has to account for. Speedy true freshman wideout Johntay Cook was a 5-star recruit in the 2023 cycle.

The ultimate goal for Alabama Football is to win the SEC Championship, go to the College Football Playoff, and compete for a national championship. Bama could accomplish all of this and there is a very real possibility that we look back at the end of the season and identify Texas as the best receiving corps the Tide faced all season.

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It will be fascinating to see how the Alabama secondary, which is loaded on paper but slightly banged up, matches up against the Texas offense. With all of these weapons and Sark calling the shots, the unit will have its hands full in Bryant-Denny Stadium.