Scouting Notebook #2
The college football season seems to be inching closer to starting on time. Despite clear set backs – see Alabama’s recent Covid-19 testing results – there is an appetite to get things moving. Whether or not the 2020 season kicks off as normal, we will make sure you are aware of the biggest storylines going into the year, with our regular Scouting Notebook column.
This week we take a look at Alabama’s talented defensive front and the upcoming running back battle at Ohio State.
Bama defensive front set to shine with returning talent
Alabama’s defensive front has become one of the most effective production lines in college football. Da’Ron Payne, Jarran Reed and Quinnen Williams are just a few of the Crimson Tide’s alumni to be excelling at the next level. This year’s rotation looks to have the potential to be as talented as any previous iterations.
Christian Barmore appears to be the headline act. He is getting the early buzz from draftniks despite limited production. With the departure of Raekwon Davis, Barmore should get the snaps needed for a breakout campaign.
Barmore’s good plays are up there with anyone in the country. At 6’5, 310lbs, he has clear power to defeat lineman at the line of scrimmage. He has an excellent swim move, and can get skinny in the line gaps for a big guy.
What he needs to find is consistency and some extra juice off the snap. For now Barmore hasn’t flashed the pure burst or explosion needed in the NFL. When he wins, it’s through good hand usage and pure power. However, too often guards can have their way with him. Barmore can get ridden out of running plays, finding himself off balance and ultimately on the deck.
Ray and co offer solid depth for Crimson Tide
Elsewhere along the defensive front, Bama will get back LaBryan Ray. After suffering a season-ending foot injury, he will hope to come back at full strength. While Barmore operates best on the interior, Ray lines up as 5-tech most frequently. It will be interesting to see if he is dynamic enough to regularly beat tackles or whether he will get the opportunity to work on the inside when Alabama use a four man front.
With back-up in the form of Phidarian Mathis, it is one of the nation’s top starting defensive line groups. Add in DJ Dale, the highly impressive sophomore nose guard and end Byron Young, you have an ultra talented group. Having lost plenty of experience in the secondary, after Trevon Diggs and Xavier McKinney graduated to the NFL, it will be important for the line to get pressure to protect any inexperience behind them.
Sermon addition set to give Buckeyes exciting running back duo
Trey Sermon’s transfer to Ohio State was one of college football’s marquee offseason moves. After the injury bug hit the Buckeyes running back corps in spring it was vital they found a solution to fill the void left by JK Dobbins. Sermon, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, appears to be the perfect solution.
Sermon led the Sooners in yards from scrimmage during the 2018 season. However, he found himself losing snaps to the talented Kennedy Brooks before his season was ended with a knee injury last year. He should be fully recovered for the start of the season and that may give him the edge over teammate Master Teague III.
Once both players are 100% they should dovetail nicely. When watching Teague you see a powerful back who enjoys the contact that comes from running between the tackles. Teague gets hard yards but has also hit home runs ripping off big gains. Teague is shifty but not an electric playmaker. One area he is strong in is his blocking. Something that will likely make him an important piece of the offense with Justin Fields’ health being a major priority.
In contrast, Sermon will offer a more dynamic threat. While Teague only had four receptions last year, Sermon accounted for 391 receiving yards in his Oklahoma career. Sermon displays quick feet and a penchant for improbable escapes (see below). He is an elusive back who fights for every yard, he will be looking for a strong finish to his collegiate career and prove he has the durability to play in the NFL.
Of the two, I see Teague as the more likely to dominate carries if he returns at full power from his achilles injury. Teague had limited opportunities behind Dobbins and despite his big performances coming against lesser opposition he has the chance to be a strong workhorse back.
The dream scenario for the Buckeyes is that both players are healthy come the business end of the season. A one-two punch like Teague and Sermon could be the perfect compliment to the electric Fields.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com