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Where’s Waddle? Alabama’s dynamic receivers lost among the others

Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle celebrates TD versus Ole Miss in 2019 season
Brian Pride - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Alabama’s offense has captivated the attention of everyone this year. 

While the rushing attack is starting to make waves, Steve Sarkisian has navigated this group to 51.8 points per game, 555 yards per game and 8.3 yards per play. Tua Tagovailoa and three of his receivers are rewriting history; however, something still feels missing from the Crimson Tide. 

We are almost at the halfway point of the season, and yet there have not been Alabama fans sharing different posts on the fourth member of the “RydeOuts.” Whether it’s Bryant-Denny Stadium or other venues, the painted grass has not seen the feet it has become familiar with. 

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Jaylen Waddle has not recorded a touchdown in seven contests, dating back to his lone score versus Georgia in last year’s Southeastern Conference title game.

His feet have not touched the end zone (legitimately) through five matchups this season, and there is a concern as to why. 

After watching his electrifying punt return style in 2018, many schools are not giving him opportunities on special teams. The various angles on punts have been difficult for the sophomore; however, he has made the most of the situation as a return specialist. 

Along with directional punting, penalties in critical moments have hurt Waddle. 

He was on his horse for a touchdown versus South Carolina, unfortunately a block in the back foul negated it.

The 5-foot-10, 182-pounder has also had a few moments where almost breaks free, but a shoestring tackle or a late grab to his legs brings him down in space. A punt return score will come eventually, but the more pressing matter is his lack of chances on offense. 

The trio of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith account for 18 of Tagovailoa’s 23 touchdown passes – 78.3 percent – and Smith leads the unit with eight scores.

Running back, Najee Harris has scored three times through the air and Sarkisian’s offense has also been kind to Miller Forristall (two touchdowns) at tight end. Despite his average of 16.4 yards per reception, Waddle is credited with 2.4 catches per game – the least of the four top receivers on the roster. 

Could it be a situation where the three main guys that came with Tagovailoa want to exit with him as first-round picks?

An argument can be made for the case, seeing how the junior quarterback is stuffing the stats sheet of the ones who arrived with him in the 2017 class. 

Hopefully, the Tide gets back to featuring Waddle more. 

After all, he will have to carry this receiving core at some point in the future and Alabama’s is going to need for him to be the primary weapon.

Sarkisian and Nick Saban will figure some things out during the bye week, but it’s weird not seeing No. 17 with a touchdown by his name. 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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