Stop Sleeping on Smitty
The ground shook in Tuscaloosa when former Georgia Bulldog turned ESPN College Gameday analyst David Pollack said without Jaylen Waddle he thinks "it's over for 'Bama."
"I think if you're just talking about winning a national title, I don't think they can win a national title without (Waddle,)" Pollack said on CFB Podcast with Herbie, Pollack & Neghandi. "By the way, like, yes — 'Bama's recruited at a high level. But you don't have, like, 4.2 (40-yard-dash-timed) guys — well, 'Bama actually last year, (Henry) Ruggs and (Waddle), the last year, last two years — you don't have 4.2, 4.3 guys sitting around."
He really defeats his own argument in those last few sentences, because, truthfully, Alabama hasn't won any of its 17 national championships with a 4.2 40 guy. Here's a news flash, 4.2 guys don't win championships. Teams do.
Look, Pollack made a hot take, and as someone who enjoys making his own blistering statements, I can respect that. The odds are probably in his favor that Alabama doesn't win the championship, technically speaking. He'll seem like a genius if he's right and if not, we'll all forget he even said it (unless you tag the special Twitter account - @OldTakesExposed.)
But Pollack should know, only losing a quarterback can really derail a team in such a manner unless the injury report is stacked with the team's top players.
Alabama may have lost a Heisman Trophy contender, but the Crimson Tide still have two more: Mac Jones and Najee Harris.
For Jones to stay in that contender's race, he needs playmakers to catch his dimes.
We've seen the articles asking: "Who will step up in Waddle's place?" "Who are the backups Tide fans should know?" and "What happens to the Tide's passing game now?"
Those are fine questions to ask, but those questions ignore one of the Crimson Tide's best players: Devonta Smith.
Here are the numbers.
Smith, not Waddle, leads the Crimson Tide in receptions with 45. He's just one yard short of Waddle's lead in yards. He and Waddle are tied in receiving touchdowns, though Smith has an added rushing touchdown.
In 2019, Smith may not have led the Crimson Tide in receptions (he had 68 to Jerry Jeudy's 77,) but he was the team leader in yards and touchdowns. Waddle had eight total touchdowns to Smith's 14.
How about some more? Smith is just five receiving touchdowns and 800 yards from breaking Amari Cooper's career records, both of which are realistically breakable. The 66 catches he needs to pass Cooper are tougher, though certainly possible with eight potential games remaining. Nevertheless, He should be top-3 in receptions by year's end. Waddle sits at eighth all-time in yards and touchdowns, but 16th in receptions.
Shocking. The guy who caught the 41-yard game-winning touchdown from Tua Tagovailoa in the 2018 National Championship and is top-5, headed for top-3, in every statistic is the most often forgotten guy on the roster.
This column isn't an effort to dismiss Waddle's explosiveness, scoring ability or importance to the Crimson Tide. It's not really intended to stick it to David Pollack.
It's to remind everyone that Alabama has a number one wide receiver in 2020. It is, and always has been, Devonta Smith.
Career Statistical Leaders: The Alabama Football Record Book