It’s like touching first after roping a double down the line or maybe a breakaway layup on a fast break.
The shotgun snap is only really noticed when it misses the mark — taken for granted in the sequence of a play in the modern era of college football. It’s been pretty consistent over the years in Alabama’s evolving offense but there were a few snaps Saturday that didn’t hit Bryce Young’s hand just as planned.
The sophomore quarterback was sacked on consecutive fourth-quarter plays in the win over Ole Miss following snaps that were either high or off to the side. Earlier in the game, a perfect snap was bobbled by Young before he regained control and converted the third down with a pass to Slade Bolden.
“Well, I think that you just gotta keep working it and the guy’s gotta have a feel for it and a rhythm for it and it’s how hard it is, it’s how high it is, it’s how sideways it gets,” Nick Saban said Wednesday. “Sometimes those issues come when a guy is blocking in a certain direction.”
Saban said it’s like golf.
“You just gotta really stay focused just like putting,” Saban said. “You gotta really stay focused on exactly what you’re doing and sometimes when you’re trying to block some big guy that’s lined up in front of you, maybe you lose sight of that a little bit.”
This is the first year as a starter for junior center Darrian Dalcourt. He was competing for the job in the preseason with Chris Owens, now the starting right tackle. Making his first career start against Miami, Dalcourt received the highest grade among Alabama offensive lineman from the coaches.
The shotgun is just part of the deal in Alabama’s offense since 129 of Young’s 148 passes this season have come from the formation, according to SECStatCat. Up until the Ole Miss game, there hadn’t been many errant snaps.
“But we had a couple in the game Saturday that we’re trying to clean up,” Saban said, “and I think it really is helpful to the quarterback to be able to operate the timing of plays when we get the proper snaps so it’s one of the most important things that we have to get straightened out and be consistent at.”
For the most part, Saban hasn’t had too many complaints about offensive line play to date. It was more of a running game against Ole Miss as the defense dropped extra backs in coverage in what became an invitation to pound the ground game. The 210 rushing yards were a team-high in SEC play while Brian Robinson had a career-best 171 of them.
“I think it helps us set the tone for where we want to be as a team,” Owens said. “We know Bryce (Young) is really talented and we have some talented receivers, but we don’t want to be a one-trick pony, so being able to have a balanced attack in the air and on the ground makes it harder to game plan for us during the week.”