It’s NFL Scouting Combine weekend in Indianapolis and, freed from the shackles of controlling coaches and sports information directors, recent college football players are a lot more honest about their seasons than they would otherwise be if they were back on campus.
Case in point? Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley was asked about the gap between his statistics in the passing game and those of his teammates like Robert Foster and why there was such a notable chasm.
“Sometimes (it got awkward), yeah because some of the guys made comments, throw up the charts,” Ridley said Friday, per AL.com. “Everybody would have like five catches and I had like 50. It’s just kinda weird. I wish we all had the same amount but we won the championship. And everybody was happy.”
Championship rings do have a way of smoothing things over but the numbers are still hard to fathom. AL.com notes Ridley had 30.1 percent of Crimson Tide receptions in 2017 and the drop off between his team-leading 63 catches to No. 2 Bo Scarbrough’s 17 was… stark. In fact, running backs finished second and third last year for Alabama in terms of catches before a wideout even enters the picture and no member of the receiver group averaged more than a catch per game in 2017.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts only threw it 254 times last year (Tua Tagovailoa added another 77, nearly a third of which came in the second half of the title game) so it’s not like there were a ton of receptions to go around but it’s probably not all that surprising to hear from Ridley that the rest of the Alabama receivers wanted the ball a bit more and that led to at least a little friction in Tuscaloosa. Either way, it certainly seems like the disparity will be something that Nick Saban and new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will be addressing when they start spring practice later this month.
Alabama’s game with Colorado State was all but over before the midpoint of the first quarter. The Tide accepted the ball to open the game and swiftly marched 75 yards in six snaps, grabbing a 7-0 lead on a 27-yard Jalen Hurts rush.
The Tide defense promptly forced a three-and-out, and a Colorado State punt pinned the Alabama offense at its own 5-yard line. It didn’t matter. Three Bo Scarborough runs gave the Tide some breathing room, and Hurts took care of the rest with a 78-yard bomb to Calvin Ridley, handing the Tide a 14-0 lead at the 8:56 mark of the first quarter.
Colorado State briefly made it interesting, pulling within 17-10 with 2:18 left in the first half. The Rams would not score again until the 9:53 mark of the fourth quarter, after Alabama had ripped off 24 straight points en route to a 41-24 win. It was the top-ranked Tide’s 67th straight victory over an unranked opponent.
Hurts closed the first half with a 52-yard catch-and-dash to Robert Foster, and ended his night completing 12-of-17 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 11 times for 103 yards and a score. Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris combined to carry 20 times for 93 yards and two more scores. The only intrigue in the second half came with the debut of freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who completed 1-of-4 passes for no gain.
For Colorado State, Nick Stephens hit 21-of-38 passes for 247 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing five times for 26 yards and a third score. He tacked on a 5-yard run and a touchdown pass, the second of the night to Warren Jackson, after the game was out of reach.
Alabama threatened to run away and hide, but Colorado State fought back to make the game competitive as the Crimson Tide holds a 24-10 lead at the break in Tuscaloosa.
The Tide seemed to put the game in blowout mode early by grabbing a 14-0 lead before the midpoint of the first quarter. Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and immediately moved 75 yards, the last 27 coming on a Jalen Hurts rush. After forcing a three-and-out, Alabama moved 95 yards in four plays, the final 78 coming on a bomb from Hurts to Calvin Ridley at the 8:56 mark of the first quarter.
But Colorado State stiffened, briefly, after that, forcing a 46-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal on Alabama’s next possession, then a missed 52-yard J.K. Scott field goal, and then a three-and-out.
As Alabama stopped scoring, Colorado State started. The Rams put together a 55-yard field goal drive to get on the board, then an 11-play, 86-yard march keyed by a 36-yard connection from Nick Stephens to Michael Gallup to get Colorado State out of the shadow of its own goalpost and a 4-yard toss to Warren Jackson to complete the drive.
Alabama responded, though, knifing 76 yards in five snaps. Hurts hit Robert Foster for a 52-yard slash-and-dash touchdown on 3rd-and-9 with a minute left before the half. The sophomore connected on 8-of-11 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns while leading all rushers with six carries for 64 yards and another score. Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough combined for 47 yards on 11 carries.
Stephens completed the half hitting 10-of-14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown while leading Colorado State with four carries for 21 yards.
Colorado State will receive to open the second half.