Amari Cooper [A] – Amari Cooper was all that, and then some for Alabama’s offense. He improved as a route runner and took on a leadership role. Cooper excelled at creating separation, and averaged at least eight catches in 12 games. He opened up teammates and developed confidence in senior quarterback, Blake Sims. Cooper totaled 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns. He stands as Alabama’s all-time leading receiver with 228 catches 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Summary: Cooper had a record-setting season, but DeAndrew White and Christion Jones both were involved. White put together some solid performances, despite injuries. He caught 40 passes for 504 yards and four touchdowns. Jones collected 19 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown. Tight end O.J. Howard registered 17 receptions for 260 yards. Chris Black and T.J. Yeldon both accounted for 15 catches apiece. Black had 188 yards, while Yeldon put in 180 yards. Kenyan Drake, Jalston Fowler and Derrick Henry each totaled two touchdown receptions.
Running Backs—Overall [A]
T.J. Yeldon [A] – He was hampered by injuries, but T.J. Yeldon was productive. 21 yards separated him from a third 1,000-yard season (979). Yeldon averaged 5.0 yards per carry, and had four games in which he totaled 100+ yards rushing (West Virginia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Auburn). He recorded 11 rushing touchdowns in 2014.
Derrick Henry [A] – Derrick Henry went from a freshman phenomenon to a potent running back in 2014. He displayed vision, speed and power. Henry had 990 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 5.8 average was good for second on the team. Henry produced three 100-yard games (West Virginia, Florida and Ohio State).
Summary: Alabama’s run game was balanced in 2014. Yeldon and Henry both were close to 1,000 yards. Blake Sims chimed in with 350 yards and seven touchdowns. Tyren Jones collected 224 yards and two scores. Kenyan Drake put in 112 yards and four touchdowns. Alabama’s backs averaged 206.6 yards per game and scored 35 touchdowns.
Offensive Line—Overall [B]
Summary: It was more finesse than usual, but Alabama’s offensive line did well. It guided the team to 484.5 yards of offense a game. Ryan Kelly, Austin Shepherd and Arie Kouandjio all did a good job in pass protection. Freshman left tackle Cam Robinson excelled in run blocking. Leon Brown fell victim to numerous penalties, but improved late in the season.
Special Teams—Overall [B+]
JK Scott [A] – Punter JK Scott impressed a lot of people this season. The freshman made an immediate impact and did a great job of flipping field position. Scott shined against Southeastern Conference competition, forcing teams to drive the ball against Alabama’s defense. He averaged 48.0 yards per punt, totaling 23 kicks in excess of 50+ yards. 31 of Scott’s 55 punts pinned opponents inside its own 20-yard line.
Adam Griffith [C] – 2014 was a roller coaster season for Adam Griffith. He started the season 7 for 7 on field goal attempts. Griffith’s struggles occurred after Alabama’s matchup against Florida. He lost some confidence, and suffered a stress fracture in his back. Griffith finished the season connecting on 12 of 19 field goals (63.2 percent). He had 20 touchbacks on kickoffs.
Coverage [A] – Alabama’s coverage team did well. West Virginia’s Mario Alford was the lone player that scored against Alabama on special teams. Landon Collins, Reuben Foster, Dillon Lee and Rashaan Evans all excelled at covering kicks. Collins and Foster proved to be nightmares for opposing return specialist.
Summary: Christion Jones didn’t register a touchdown on special teams, but it was still exciting nonetheless. JK Scott kept Alabama in a lot of games. Landon Collins and Reuben Foster both made solid tackles. Adam Griffith didn’t make every kick, but he made more than he missed.
Defensive Play—Overall [C]
Defensive Line [B] – Alabama’s defensive line was more disruptive in 2014. It generated 24 sacks (32 sacks, team total), 11 pass breakups and 32 quarterback hurries. Senior Xzavier Dickson led the team in tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (9.0). Jarran Reed led all defensive linemen in tackles (55) and pass breakups (5). Jonathan Allen finished second on the team in tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (5.5). D.J. Pettway and Da’Shawn Hand both totaled two sacks apiece.
Linebackers [B] – Reggie Ragland exceeded all expectations. He filled in admirably for CJ Mosley and was a tackling machine. Ragland recorded 95 stops, including 10.5 tackles for loss. Senior Trey DePriest finished third on the team in tackles (88). He accounted for three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a safety. Ryan Anderson emerged as an important piece in 2014. He chimed in with 25 tackles, three sacks and nine quarterback hurries. Dillon Lee put in 24 tackles, while Reuben Foster collected 22 stops. Freshman Rashaan Evans had 15 tackles.
Secondary [C] – Injuries plagued it early, and inconsistency hurt it late. Alabama’s secondary challenged short passes, but was torched on deep balls. Safety Landon Collins led the team in tackles (103). He had seven pass breakups, three interceptions, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Fifth-year senior Nick Perry had his best season in 2014. He registered 80 tackles, six pass breakups and two interceptions. Geno Smith finished with 56 stops and a forced fumble. Cornerbacks Cyrus Jones and Eddie Jackson made mistakes, but both improved from 2013. Jones led the team in pass breakups (13) and tied for first in interceptions (3). Jackson chimed in with 41 stops, six pass breakups, two forced fumbles, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. Freshman Tony Brown had 10 tackles and a blocked kick. Bradley Sylve put in eight stops and two pass breakups.
Summary: 2014 was either feast or famine for Alabama’s defense. It had some good moments, and some head scratching ones. Tackling and on ball skills both were issues late in the season. Alabama allowed 18.4 points and 328.4 yards per contest.
Quarterback Play—Overall [B]
Blake Sims [B] – Alabama does not win an SEC title without Blake Sims. It doesn’t make it into the College Football Playoff without him. Sims went from an uncertain athlete, to Alabama’s offensive leader in 2014. He made a lot of questionable throws, but responded with resiliency and toughness. Sims led Alabama on numerous game-saving drives, and a game-winning drive against LSU. He overcame three interceptions against Auburn, and guided the team to a 55-44 victory. Sims completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 3,487 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Summary: Florida State transfer Jake Coker wasn’t ready. He was a huge name in the summer, but he wasn’t ready for prime time. Blake Sims has taken much scrutiny in his journey to being a starting quarterback, but he answered all critics in 2014. Sims believed in his teammates and coaching staff, and it responded by rallying around him. He delivered Alabama a 12-win season.
We have reached the end of football season and Stephen’s Report. 2014 was marked with intense plays, huge victories and tough losses. Alabama fans learned more about this year’s team with each game it played. It was a team that had a lot of chemistry, and a group of players that embodied the mentality of its head coach, Nick Saban. 2014 didn’t have a fairytale ending, but the boys in crimson and white will back next season.