Will Alabama’s least mentioned weakness be revealed against Vanderbilt?
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Hunter De Siver
Since legendary head coach Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa in 2007, the Crimson Tide hasn’t had many weaknesses.
One of the few that come to mind is perhaps the weirdest: their struggle against backup and/or freshman quarterbacks. Alabama has lost to at least six backup and/or freshman quarterbacks since then, including Johnny Manziel, Trevor Lawrence and most recently, Zach Calzada.
In the 20-19 thrilling win against Texas, Longhorns backup quarterback Hudson Card filled in for highly-touted recruit Quinn Ewers after an injury in the second quarter. Card didn’t necessarily play well, but helped Texas stay neck-and-neck with the Tide all game long. He threw for 158 yards with a solid 124.0 passer rating.
Two weeks ago, the Vanderbilt Commodores benched starting quarterback Mike Wright for freshman AJ Swann. The freshman backup has passed for 452 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Swann will likely have his eyes on wide receiver Will Sheppard, who has 23 receptions for 313 yards and seven touchdowns through the first four games of the season.
Running back Ray Davis has rushed for 385 yards this season and is averaging an excellent 5.5 yards per carry. Swann and Davis will be eagle-eyed by Alabama’s elite pass rush led by Will Anderson Jr.
The Tide’s defense and special teams unit were nearly perfect in last week’s 63-7 win against UL-Monroe. If they can play even half as well against Vanderbilt, then this game shouldn’t be a problem.
The run game last week was also elite as they ran for 273 yards and three touchdowns.
The passing game was the only question mark. Reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young had a subpar day… for at least his standards: 13 completions for 236 yards and three touchdowns, but two interceptions.
Young is still considered one of the best players in college football as he’s thrown for 644 yards and nine touchdowns in three games. He’s also rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns. A game against some SEC competition might be all he needs to get back to the top of the mountain.
The Crimson Tide faces the Vanderbilt Commodores in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network.