Alabama’s Calvin Ridley: A rebound after 2016?

We know one thing about Alabama’s depth chart: It’s going to be deep. Real. Freaking. Deep.

Everywhere on an offensive line will be players who can catch a ball, run it quicker in pads than most people without a ball, helmet and pads on, and they will weigh about the 250-300lb mark. Running backs will be lightning bolts. Tight ends will be wide receivers.

2016 was meant to be a breakout year for Calvin Ridley – particularly after a freshman year when he had 89 receptions, 1,045 yards and 7 TDs, averaging a tidy 11.7 yards per reception. That was good for 33rd in the Nation, and not bad at all for a freshman start.

For 2015, we thought that this would be another monster year for Ridley. Sure, his quarterback, Jalen Hurts, was new, but the fall in stats was staggering. Ridley went from ‘trusted receiver’ to ‘not particularly trusted receiver’, falling to the 94th receiver overall in NCAA rankings in terms of receiving yards, with ‘just’ 769. His receptions fell to 72, and his average yards per reception dropped to 10.7. The only thing that stayed the same was touchdowns (7).

He also had five attempts as a rusher in 2016, and even scored a touchdown. He had one in 2015.

BIG FACTOR?

For 2015, Ridley was a factor in almost all of his games, getting thrown to at least 6 times in the last four games of the season, and grabbing two touchdowns in the play-off win over Michigan State. While he wasn’t a big factor in the National Championship Game, he put defensive co-ordinators at Clemson off enough that they seemed to forget about OJ Howard as the big tight end had the game of his life as the Crimson Tide battled their way to a National Championship.

In 2016, Ridley had no touchdowns in his last 4 games and was thrown to an average of a smidgeon under 4 times a game (Bearing in mind that he averaged over 6 yards per reception, you could argue that if Lane Kiffin/Steve Sarkasian/Nick Saban had used him more, he would have had even more of an effect on the game).

THIS SEASON

This year, it’ll be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll uses Ridley. Ridley’s got an immensely smooth running action, can blow the doors off defensive backs, and bearing in mind his 6-1, 188lb frame, he’ll probably go to the pros after this year and continue a line of very good NFL receivers. Oh, and you would be surprised to see him in the backfield either, if Daboll’s looking to spice things up!

And what we do know is this: If Ridley’s used like he was in 2015, the SEC defenses in 2017 are going to be very worried indeed!

 

Scheduling: Saban turns down Wisconsin series offer

Nick Saban has turned down The University of Wisconsin’s offer of a home-and-home series, the Wisconsin State Journal has reported.

According to the report, ESPN had tried to push for having Alabama play Wisconsin at a Neutral Site, but Wisconsin AD – and  former legendary Badgers head coach – Barry Alvarez  said current coach Brett Bielma “countered with an offer to play a home-and-home series with the Crimson Tide — no specific years were discussed — but that Alabama coach Nick Saban declined.

CBSSports noted in an article that Saban is much happier with his Alabama team playing games at neutral sites rather than home-and-homes, and noted that Alabama haven’t played two BCS conference opponents in any one year.

Having said that, the report noted that Alabama HAS played Penn State (twice), Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida State in the last five years (they have a 4-1 record). Here is a look back (and forward) at some of Alabama’s schedules.

BOTTOM LINE: While we’re looking forward to seeing Alabama play Michigan in 2012, Virginia Tech in 2013, and West Virginia in 2014, we wish Nick Saban would play more home-and-home games, because we still fervently believe that the best teams should be able to play in the harshest environments, instead of souped-up, big-for-TV regular season ‘bowl’ games that are games at Cowboys Stadium or the Georgia Dome. In other words, we’ll give the Crimson Tide less credit for winning a neutral site game than AT the Big House or AT Hokie Stadium or IN Morgantown (plus, the gameday atmosphere’s much better for home-and-homes, too!).