How Alabama QB Bryce Young decides to pass vs run, plus Georgia and crushed popcorn
College football contenders and pretenders started to truly reveal themselves this past week, and Alabama football made clear it belongs in the contender category.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide defeated No. 12 Ole Miss 42-21 on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Let's get right to your questions:
Why won't Bryce run? – Alan B.
Hey Alan. Believe it or not, Young actually had a season-high in rushing attempts against Ole Miss with five. Sure some Alabama fans would like him to tuck it and run more instead of holding out for a pass, but that's partly what makes Young an early Heisman favorite. He's looking to make the best play, not just a play.
Of course, the decision to pass instead of run doesn't look as smart when the pass doesn't work. But when he does hit that 40-yard throw instead of the 8-yard run, that decision looks brilliant.
I asked Young after the Ole Miss game how he decides when to throw and pass. Here's what he said in full:
"It's a bit of a feel thing," Young said. "You have to try to make the best decision for the team, for the offense. When you get out there, it's a little more reactions. You're trying to find someone downfield but also trying to gauge if running would be the better option. Each situation is different. You can't pre-determine, 'I'm going to roll out and throw' or 'I'm going to roll out and run.' You have to gauge each decision. That's something in my game I'm still working on, still trying to improve, still trying to master. You have just got to take each play and each situation differently."
This answer tells me that Young knows he isn't perfect in that decision making just yet, and that will likely come with more time. Remember, Saturday was only his fifth start. That's a split second decision a quarterback has to make. The more experience he gets, the more he'll know when the pass just isn't there.
He's a mobile quarterback, but he's not a running quarterback. His strength is his passing. He's wise to focus on using his arm more than his legs.
How many consecutive games has Alabama now scored at least 30 points? – Kevin M.
Hi Kevin. Alabama has now reached 31 consecutive games with 30 or more points. That ties UCF for the longest such streak. The Knights reached that number from 2017-19.
What's remarkable about Alabama's streak is the variety of ways it has reached 30 points or more through that span. The Ole Miss game was a prime example of how Alabama coach Nick Saban and company are willing to adapt, going back to an older style of ground-and-pound football.
How do you think they stack up against Georgia? – Herb R.
That's a great question, Herb. It's a question I think just about everyone in the college football world wants to know. Until the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide face each other, likely in Atlanta, it will all be conjecture.
But in the spirit of that conjecture, here's a little more: Georgia's defense will likely give Alabama trouble. It's giving everyone trouble; the Bulldogs are giving up only 4.60 points per game. Not even two field goals. That's crazy in today's college football world.
The offensive line will likely need to play its best game of the season when facing Georgia and the tough front it has. Fortunately for this offense that didn't return many players from 2020, it will have played a full season before a potential (likely?) matchup against the Bulldogs. That experience and chemistry gained by then will be needed.
On the flipside, the Georgia offense is humming as well. Even with starting quarterback JT Daniels out against Arkansas, Stetson Bennett had no trouble leading the offense in the 37-0 victory. Alabama's defense will need to replicate the physicality it displayed against Ole Miss to slow down Georgia's offense enough as the Alabama offense and Georgia defense have a back-and-forth battle.
That may be a true "get your popcorn ready" type game. Speaking of which ...
How could "social media-savvy" Lane Kiffin open himself up to being meme-ified forever with his "get your popcorn ready" mic drop? – Chris A.
Good question, Chris. Making a statement like that while literally dropping the mic and staring directly into the camera just asks for something to go wrong. And it did, and Kiffin looked a bit foolish.
There's a reason you're not about to see Saban making a statement like that one before a game.
What kind of popcorn does Nick Saban prefer? – Tim P.
If it's popcorn from Kiffin, Saban prefers it crushed.
Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly