Should Alabama fans be worried about Tide's receivers after Ridley?
Calvin Ridley has clearly been Alabama’s go-to receiver this season. Of the Tide’s 88 receptions, Ridley has accounted for 29 of them — or 33 percent.
It has even gotten to a point where some people critique how often sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts targets Ridley.
Well, fans got a minor glimpse of what life would be like without the former 5-star recruit from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this past Saturday when Ridley suffered a thigh bruise against the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station.
There wasn’t much of a chance to see what the offense could do after the injury to Alabama’s top receiver, but some interesting things happened before Ridley’s exit.
Robert Foster’s poor drive in the third quarter stood out the most. He dropped a pass and then proceeded to cough it up for the A&M defense on the very next play — it was the offense’s first, and only, turnover this season.
Rough series for Foster. It happens, though. pic.twitter.com/Y7Pnya4HSO
— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) October 9, 2017
Things such as drops and turnovers are going to happen, however, so there is no need to overreact if the occurrence is rare.
It’s also difficult to build any sort of momentum over the course of a season when your second-leading receiver (true freshman Jerry Jeudy) — not including running backs — is only averaging 1.3 receptions per game.
There is no doubt that Alabama’s receiving core is as talented as anyone’s in the country. Here’s a breakdown of every receiver on the Tide’s two-deep depth chart, and their statistics after six games this season.
- Calvin Ridley (5-star) — 29 receptions, 390 yards, 2 TDs
- Jerry Jeudy (5-star) — 8 receptions, 131 yards, 1 TD
- Robert Foster (5-star) — 7 receptions, 96 yards, 1 TD
- Cam Sims (4-star) — 6 receptions, 106 yards
- Henry Ruggs III (4-star) — 3 receptions, 32 yards, 3 TDs
- Devonta Smith (4-star) — 2 receptions, 51 yards, 1 TD
Further down the depth chart there are plenty more former 4-star recruits, so the unit is solid from top to bottom.
In addition, five Alabama receivers have caught a touchdown pass. In comparison, the two top passing offenses in the SEC West, Ole Miss and Auburn, have only seen three and four receivers bring in a touchdown, respectively.
The lack of production from Alabama’s receivers actually falls in the hands of Hurts. He is only a second-year player, and he’s still learning things such as progressions, keeping his eyes up and maintaining a “pass-first” mentality.
The people expecting Hurts to somehow become perfect in those areas from Year 1 to Year 2 held unrealistic expectations.
All of those things do, however, directly impact the receiving core’s stats from game to game.
If Hurts isn’t comfortable enough yet going from his first to second read consistently, then Ridley is going to continue to see a lion’s share of the targets. Why? Well, because Ridley is the primary receiver on most passing plays.
The passing game, overall, just wasn’t clicking in Week 6, but that’s going to happen. As long as Hurts continues to show positive growth — though he mostly has made minor improvements so far — then we should start to see these types of performances decrease.
At this point, only one thing is certain. It would be a bad idea to sleep on Alabama’s receivers following only one subpar game.
This is Alabama’s No. 4 pass catcher:
This is all true freshman WR Jerry Jeudy. Robinson had solid coverage. Wow. pic.twitter.com/LUX1EoTtj8
— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) April 22, 2017