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All Things CW: Home Cooking May Help With What Ails Alabama Offense, Drops

Crimson Tide tight ends are in a terrible slump, Brian Robinson Jr. deserves credit for being the offense's workhorse, and yes Alabama has hosted Tennessee before for homecoming.

There was a moment during Alabama's game at Mississippi State that was very telling regarding the Crimson Tide's recent drop issues. 

Redshirt junior tight end Cameron Latu was open along the Alabama sideline, and even though the pass was high all he had to do was jump up and make the catch. Only he didn't, and the frustration on his face and through his body language displayed how far his confidence has fallen. 

That he did it right in front of Nick Saban didn't help either. 

"Drops, it’s definitely a repetition thing," Alabama wide receiver Slade Bolden said earlier this season after he had a drop in the end zone at Florida. "Can also be just having confidence in your hands. But doing that, building confidence, takes repetition. That’s getting on the JUGS, catching balls after practice and just working on different skill-hand work. 

"There’s definitely ways to improve on catching.

Having a drop or two in a game isn't usual, even for a team like Alabama. However, it had seven in the loss to Texas A&M. 

It has the same number for the rest of the season.

For the tights, Latu and Jahleel Billingsley, they've all but vanished from the passing game the last two weeks. 

After combining to make five catches on the six times they were targeted against Ole Miss (for 50 yards), they caught just one of 13 balls thrown their way against Texas A&M and Mississippi State, with six drops and one of the passes intercepted. 

Consequently, Billingsley and Latu are tied with Jameson Williams for the most drops on the Crimson Tide with three, one ahead of John Metchie III (both were at Texas A&M).

Both tight ends have 10 receptions this season, with a combined seven touchdowns.

Two things that should help both regain some confidence is Alabama doesn't play on the road again until the regular-season finale at Auburn, and they've already seen some teammates bounce back. Bolden hasn't had a drop since The Swamp, and Metchie rebounded to have seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown last week. 

Alabama Dropped Passes By Game 

  1. Miami 1
  2. Mercer 2
  3. Florida 1
  4. Southern Miss 1
  5. Ole Miss 0
  6. Texas A&M 7
  7. Mississippi State 2

Tenacious B

Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. isn't putting up the same kind of rushing numbers as Texas running back Bijan Robinson (924 yards) or  Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III, who is already knocking on the door of 1,000 (997).

Yet it's a little surprising that he hasn't been getting more praise and/or notice as the Crimson Tide's feature back this season. 

The expectation that Alabama would be more of a backfield by committee hasn't quite panned out, especially with Jase McClellan out for the season, Trey Sanders coming off his major car accident last year, and freshman Camar Wheaton slowed by a knee issue.

Through seven games overall, six for Robinson as he sat one week due to a rib injury, he has 116 carries for 599 yards. It translates to 5.2 yards per carry, and he also has 14 catches for 145 yards.

Figuring that Alabama has at least seven more games to play if it can win the SEC West, Robinson is on pace for something around 1,200 rushing yards and maybe 1,500 total yards. 

That's more than comparable to Alabama's recent leading rushers. 

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  • 2020: Najee Harris, 251 carries-1,466 rushing yards
  • 2019: Najee Harris, 209-1,224
  • 2018: Damien Harris, 150-876
  • 2017: Damien Harris, 135-1000
  • 2016: Damien Harris, 146-1,237
  • 2015: Derrick Henry, 395-2,219
  • 2014: T.J. Yeldon, 194-979
  • 2013: T.J. Yeldon, 207-1235
  • 2012: Eddie Lacy, 204-1,322

Robinson may not have the same yards-per-carry average, but he already has 130 touches (116 carries, 14 catches), and against Ole Miss tallied the most rushing attempts of anyone not named Derrick Henry during the Saban era with 36. 

Mid-Season All-Americans

The Sporting News, which is one of the outlets the NCAA uses in determining unanimous and consensus All-American status each season (along with the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, and the Walter Camp Foundation), announced its midseason team this week. 

Alabama sophomore linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and junior left tackle Evan Neal were both on it, and maintained their status after being on the preseason All-American team as well. 

Overall, roughly half of the players did not. 

The midseason team may have been indicative of what many believe will be a wide open second half of the season. No program had more than two first-team selections, with Alabama tied along Georgia, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

That's six strong contenders for the College Football Playoff, which will unveil its initial rankings on Nov. 2.

2022 NFL Draft notes

• Now that scouts have gotten a good look at him at left tackle, look for Neal to be moving up some draft boards and be widely hailed as a potential top-five selection. He was already considered an outstanding prospect, but he's made some impressive strides in his technique that combined with his size and athleticism make it highly likely that he'll be the first offensive lineman picked in the 2022 NFL Draft. 

• The Crimson Tide player who has moved up the most on draft boards this season is obviously Williams. The bad news for him is that it's a pretty good year at the top of his position group, which means some teams will be looking for a high-end wide receiver or two to fall and become bargains. 

• Something to keep in mind when considering draft stock, at this time a year ago, Billingsley had his first reception of the 2020 season against Tennessee. From that point until the national title game he had 17 catches for 274 yards.


• A lot is being made of Tennessee having lost 14 straight in the Third Saturday in October rivalry, but he SEC East has lost 32 straight games against Alabama. It dates back to the South Carolina loss in 2020. That includes six straight wins in the SEC Championship Game. 

• Since the Volunteers last beat the Crimson Tide in 2006, they've only come into the game ranked in the AP Top 25 just twice: No. 20 in 2007, and No. 9 in 2016. Meanwhile, this will be the 12th time Alabama is ranked in the top four during that stretch. 

• The last time Tennessee beat a ranked Alabama team was Oct. 23, 1999, 21-7 in Tuscaloosa. It's the most points the Vols have scored against the Crimson Tide since the 51-43 five-overtime game in 2003. That was also the last time they won at Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

• The last time Alabama had Tennessee as its homecoming opponent was October 18, 1930. UA won 18-6.

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