When the Alabama Football team faced Tennessee, they played their worst half of football in the first half. After halftime, everything seemed to flip the offense started moving the football and the defense was stout. The only problem was the special teams’ units continued to struggle seemingly getting worse in the second half.
Returning punts has been a catalyst all season for the Alabama Football Team and Nick Saban is deciding to make a change. This year Cornerback Kool-Aid Mckinstry has returned punts all season, while he’s an excellent cornerback returning punts hasn’t been his strong suit. This issue came to a head on Saturday as Kool-Aid allowed multiple punts to fall rather than fair catching them resulting in multiple punts downed inside the 20-yard-line with one punt downed on the three.
Wide Receiver Isaiah Bond will be the next return man it seems as it seems he let the cat out of the bag in his media session today. When asked if he returned punts in high school and if he’s still working on returning punts Isaiah Bond said this:
"“Yes sir, I did do punt return in high school as well and yes sir I’m working on punt return as well you should be seeing me soon."
This change will be interesting to watch in the weeks going forward especially how soon we may see number 17 fielding punts. We’ve seen Bond show the catching aspect of returning kicks in the way he’s been able to adjust to Jalen Milroe’s deep balls showing incredible body control and concentration at times. The fun aspect of watching Isaiah Bond returning kicks will be his speed however, a track star in high school Bond won the 6A championships in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in high school with a 100-meter time of 10.48 seconds.
Alabama Football: Making a change in a position of weakness.
The Alabama Football team is usually explosive in the return game with returners like Kenyan Drake, Marquis Maze, and Javier Arenas as examples that stand out. This season the team hasn’t been explosive in the return game and has actually been a negative spot on this Alabama Football team. This season the teams returned only 11 punts for 58 yards which is less impressive when you account for his 33-yard return against Middle Tennessee, far below what you’d expect for a team that forces punts as often as the Alabama defense. Making a switch from Mckinstry to Isaiah Bond is valuable regardless of what they do returning for one massive reason. The punt game leads to significant opportunities for big hits that could lead to injuries. While Bond is a massive part of the offense it would be significantly worse for this team if he were to get injured returning kicks.
All Stats Via: ESPN