Alabama Drops Keep the Tide From Rolling in College Station on Saturday
The No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide team went into College Station and fell to the No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies 41-38. The Crimson Tide scored 28 second half points to mount a comeback on the road but ultimately fell short, losing to an unranked opponent after 100 consecutive victories against such opponents.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young passed for 369 yards and three touchdowns but his day could have been even better. Young was harassed all evening long by the Aggie defensive line and was hindered by drops from his receiving core, creating an uphill battle for the California native.
"We had some drops in critical situations, we had a drop at the end of the game when we could have went two-minute, it would have been a first down and we would've started to move the ball. I don't know that anything went wrong, we just didn't execute. We didn't throw and catch the ball like we need to, we didn't run it effectively enough," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban after the loss.
Young succumbed to four sacks and was officially hurried five other times, the Aggie pressure upfront contributed to an interception and a fumbled handoff exchange, limiting the the Alabama offense to just 10 first half points.
Young completed 28-of-48 passes, good for 58% completion but the Crimson Tide receiving core dropped eight passes on the night that would have allowed the offense to look even better.
Junior receiver John Metchie III did catch seven passes for 88 yards for the Tide but he also dropped four Young passes leading the Tide in concentration lapses at Kyle Field.
Junior tight end Jahleel Billingsley didn't record a catch on the evening, he dropped two of his four targets on the night, one on third down late in the first half resulting in an Alabama punt and the second on the final drive of the game for the Crimson Tide offense while the game was tied.
Junior Jameson Williams paced the Tide with 10 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns but even he wasn't exempt from the drops as he let a first quarter target slip through his hands. Alabama concluded that drive throwing an interception into the endzone while targeting Billingsley.
Lastly, junior Cameron Latu had one of the largest drops of the game. Young found him early in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard pass in the endzone. The pass hit Latu in the hands but the Aggie defender crashed into him from behind jarring the ball loose and forcing the incompletion. Alabama would settle for a field goal on the drive, remaining one point behind Texas A&M at the time.
Alabama's eight drops directly cost the Crimson Tide at least 119 receiving yards eight first downs and at minimum four points on the scoreboard. Young's final stat line could have been 36-of-48 for 488 yards with four touchdowns and likely a victory had his receiving core remained unblemished.
Alabama's offense has highly rated players all over the field however the level of focus in the Tide's last two road games has not been up to the example set by the 2020 team, something Saban may have seen coming as early as fall camp.
"I think we have to play well around Bryce. At times today, I didn’t think maybe we did as good a job as we need to. It’s all 11 guys, it’s the offensive line. It’s the receivers. It’s all 11 guys, so that he’ll have more opportunities to make plays," said Saban after a fall scrimmage.
The Alabama offense must show it can respond as the Tide still has road trips to Mississippi State and Auburn left on its 2021 schedule.