The Eyes Of Texas May Be Surprised To See Alabama QB Bryce Young Running Wild

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young threw for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns and won the Heisman Trophy last season, but he gained exactly zero net rushing yards.

He rushed 42 times through 15 games, mostly on scrambles, and was sacked 39 times with the lost yardage from those counting toward his rushing total. He had 81 carries, and the final tally? Zero.

On Saturday in the Crimson Tide’s 55-0 win over Utah St., Young rushed five times on scrambles for 100 yards with no sacks, including a 63-yard jaunt and a 4-yard touchdown run.

“That was definitely interesting,” Young said of his tailback prowess. “Definitely wasn’t something I was planning. That was just what was available.”

WHAT IF NICK SABAN WAS COACHING TEXAS SATURDAY AGAINST ALABAMA?

Yes, the junior from the Los Angeles area threw for a career-high five touchdowns on 18-of-28 passing for 195 yards. But “See Bryce Run” has been the talk of Tuscaloosa as the No. 1 Crimson Tide (1-0) prepares to play at Texas (1-0) at noon Saturday on FOX.

None of the five runs were designed, but could that be a new strategy here and there, considering how well he moves?

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, who has known Young since he was in grade school in Southern California, knows his talent. Sarkisian was an assistant coach at USC and later its head coach. Coach Sark will be prepared for more scrambles or even designed runs from Young. Bet on it.

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian faces a familiar foe in Bryce Young Saturday at noon when Alabama comes to town. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images)

“On top of that (his passing skills), he’s very elusive,” Sarkisian, who was offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2020 when Young was a backup freshman, said this week. “He’s a former point guard in basketball. He’s got a real sense, feel for things going on around him, and he has an innate ability to maneuver around in the pocket.”

And he can run. Young did that at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana. As a senior in 2019, he rushed for 357 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“I think the things last week that was kind of a little different was he was running the ball,” Sarkisian said. “When things broke down, he took off and ran. Which had not really been his M.O. (modus operandi) historically. I don’t know how much he really wants to do or they want him to do. But the reality of it is, they put a lot on him.”

Interesting, as Young said.

But Alabama coach Nick Saban downplayed any future use of Young as a runner after the Utah St. game.

“Bryce had an explosive run on a scramble, all right,” he said dismissively.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – JANUARY 10: Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts in the second quarter of the game against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2022 CFP National Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

It would seem unlikely that Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien would install some designed running plays for Young, considering how valuable he is as a passer.

Young didn’t win the Heisman because of his running ability. And he is also a bit thin at 6-0 and 190 pounds.

But one never knows. Perhaps O’Brien and Saban would like to keep something in the chamber in case it is really needed down the road. A two-point conversion run perhaps for Young? A third-and-long quarerback draw?

“That’s a question for Coach OB and Coach Saban,” Young said when asked if he will be running more on scrambles or called plays. “Whatever the coaches call, I’m going to run it.”

Sarkisian knows what Young does best.

“He’s got the instinct of passing the football,” he said. “Bryce can feel things happen and has a natural understanding of route combinations based on coverages. And then, he’s willing to cut it loose.”

With his arm, and apparently now perhaps, with his feet.

 


Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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