Three thoughts from Alabama football's offensive and defensive coordinator press availability
Albeit virtually, with far less fanfare than normal, Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Pete Golding met with the press for their annual preseason availability last week, granting one of just two public opportunities to pick their brains.
Here are three points of analysis from what they had to say.
What to do with Waddle?
Thirty-three receptions for the only player in six years to return five or more punts for 40 yards or more seems low, but that was life for Jaylen Waddle last season. His kick and punt returns showed him to be among the most explosive players in the nation, but a trio of wide receivers ahead of him kept him from being a bigger part of Alabama’s offense.
That is certain to change in 2020, but, as Sarkisian pointed out, it is more than simply giving Waddle more time on the field.
“You feel a little bit more comforting in knowing that you have more opportunities and you don’t have to force it to him,” Sarkisian said. “It can get to them a little bit more organically or a little more naturally.”
If turned into a math equation, Waddle could benefit from more snaps with lower targets per snap percentage being greater than fewer snaps with a higher targets per snap percentage.
In Golding’s opening statement, he mentioned four names: the lone returning starter in the secondary, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, and previously-injured missing links in both the defensive line and linebacker corps – defensive end LaBryan Ray and Dylan Moses. All of them are proven entities in the SEC.
The fourth name Golding brought up: redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Christian Barmore.
Barmore was a trendy breakout player pick for this season after finding a role as an interior pass rusher in the later stages of 2019. He follows the mold of Quinnen Williams, an interior pass rusher who went from 6 1/2 tackles for a loss to 19 1/2 in one season, using the jump to earn the No. 3 overall spot in the 2019 NFL Draft.
A jump of that magnitude is an unfair expectation for Barmore, but Golding singling him out among the most proven parts of UA’s defense could forecast the jump that was projected for him. It would come with good timing, as well, giving UA another option at nose guard alongside DJ Dale, and one that could be even more valuable in pass-rush packages.
As UA looks to replace three starters in its secondary, players such as Josh Jobe and Ronald Williams Jr. make themselves attractive options for their positional flexibility: both could start at both corner and the star position, plus an off chance that Williams could drift back to safety in a pinch.
In sizing the two of them up, Golding tipped his hand as to where the two are currently positioned.
“I think we’ve got several guys that we’re looking at from the star position right now, Ronald being one of them,” Golding said. “But I think the big thing in this conference and within this defense, we need to have two corners that can lock it down, and I think that’s something that Patrick (Surtain II) and Josh should be able to do for us and they’ve done well up to this point. And then for us, it’s find that next best one to be able to bring to the star position and cover those slots that are a big part of multiple offenses and those guys can run in this league.”
Jobe being slotted at cornerback makes sense: He was the next man up, after all, when Trevon Diggs opted out of the Citrus Bowl and Alabama needed a starting cornerback for its game against Michigan. Now his job is to be the lockdown corner Golding needs him to be.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or email@example.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson