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Bryce Young Confident Alabama WRs Will Catch on After Spring Struggles

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner spoke about the Crimson Tide's recent problems with drops during camp.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Drop is beginning to become a nasty four-letter word for Alabama. Despite recording a program-best 5,073 yards through the air last season, the Crimson Tide suffered its fair share of mishandled passes.

Thirty-two of them, to be exact. At least that’s the tally according to Pro Football Focus, which doesn’t even count drops that are provoked by a defender.

According to the service, three of Alabama’s drops came during its national championship loss to Georgia. Two of those occurred on back-to-back throws in the third quarter as Ja’Corey Brooks and Agiye Hall both saw would-be first downs bounce off their hands inside the Bulldogs’ 10-yard. Instead of setting up a first-and-goal, the pair of flubbed passes ultimately resulted in a blocked field goal which spurred Georgia’s late surge.

Alabama’s 32 drops last season nearly doubled its total of 17 the year before. It also marked the program's highest amount since PFF first started charting the statistic in 2014. So when Nick Saban mentioned his team’s continued struggles holding onto passes following the past two scrimmages, it set off a few alarm bells among the Crimson Tide faithful.

That being said, the person on the other end of those drops doesn’t seem too concerned. Bryce Young voiced his confidence in his wide receiving corps Tuesday, attributing this spring’s struggles to a lack of chemistry rather than an absence of ability in the unit.

“I really think it’s all mental,” Young said. “We don’t have any guys who don’t have hands or aren’t able to catch.”

Young has a point. While Alabama loses its top three wide receivers from last year in Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden, it still has plenty of capable targets at its disposal.

According to PFF, JoJo Earle shined in a small sample size during his freshman season last year, recording 12 receptions on 16 targets without recording a drop. Meanwhile, Brooks’ drop in the national championship game was the lone blunder in his debut season. Alabama also brought in sure-handed Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton, who didn’t record a drop while pulling in 26 receptions on 30 balls thrown his way.

That’s why Young isn’t sweating a few early mistakes.

“I think being able to see the guys and being able to see what they’ve been able to do this spring, the times that we do have drops, for me I haven’t had my confidence waiver in anyone,” Young said. “I see how hard they work. Really, I see the drops honestly hurt them more than it hurts anyone else.

“It’s something that happens every here and there, but I haven’t seen it be a crazy consistent issue with one individual. And again, it’s spring. I haven’t had any perfect practices. I haven’t been perfect at all, and there’s stuff that I want to work on. So I think we all have stuff to build off of. It’s just about making sure that we’re all reassuring each other, we’re all pushing, we’re all trying to strive to be better.

According to Young, Saban spoke with the team Monday about increasing the level of focus in practice in order to eliminate mental errors. The head coach delivered a similar message following the second scrimmage this past weekend.

“I think some of the players, especially the younger players, gotta understand that how you practice — practice execution becomes a reality for you,” Saban explained. “Whether you drop balls in practice, it becomes reality in the game. Because what you do in practice is what prepares you, and you don’t really rise up when the game comes.

“You really drop down to whatever your level of preparation has been because that’s what develops the habits and the confidence and the things that you need to do to go out and execute and be consistent. We have guys that play really, really well, and then we’ve got guys that need to learn how to play well on a consistent basis.”

Young doesn’t believe that will be a problem either. Tuesday, the quarterback said he felt lucky to be a part of a “group of guys that just want to work, want to get after it,” praising the offense for its resiliency and determination this spring.

“We’ll come back the next day, you know we make that stride,” Young said. “We come back and connect, and that’s something that are kind of those little wins that we all kind of have to take, and that’s what spring is all about. I have all the confidence in all the guys in the receiving corps, and I’m super happy to keep working and keep developing with them.”

Alabama will practice again Thursday before wrapping up its spring camp with the annual A-Day game Saturday inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. The scrimmage is set to kick off at 2 p.m. CT with admission free to the public. It will also be streamed live on SEC Network+.

Jermaine Burton
Ja'Corey Brooks, Alabama practice, August 24, 2021
JoJo Earle, Alabama scrimmage 4/9/22
Traeshon Holden
Christian Leary
Thaiu Jones-Bell
Aaron Anderson
Kendrick Law