By watching Bryce Young play in his first two career starts at Alabama, it’s hard to find any problems that can be attributed to lack of experience. Already, Young appears to be in complete control of a Crimson Tide offense that’s had to replace numerous marquee players and first round picks.
But this Saturday, Young will be suiting up in his first ever road start at the college level and his first start against an SEC opponent in No. 11 ranked Florida.
The Gators, who’ll enter the game 2-0, have had back to back dominant wins against out of conference opponents to start the year and likely still have Alabama fresh in the players minds after the heartbreaking loss in the SEC Championship Game from one year ago.
“We know the environment we’re going to go into, and we know the challenges ahead of us,” Young said to the media on Monday. “It’s something the coaches are preparing us for, and it’s something we’re not taking lightly at all. Being on the same page as an offense and as a team is going to be really big for us.
“We have to make sure we’re communicating well and make sure that through the week we’re getting the reps we need to get to prepare for Saturday.”
Despite Young’s limited game logs and the hostility of that “The Swamp” provides towards visiting teams, head coach Nick Saban believes it won’t only need to be his quarterback who steps up to the challenge.
“I think we all got a little taste of that playing in Atlanta, even though it wasn’t the crowd noise there that we’ll have this week,” Saban said on Monday. “You’ve just got to play with poise, and that’s one thing that Bryce has done in both games. He’s been able to keep his poise and stay focused on doing things that we need him to do.
“It’s the entire offense that will have to keep its poise in these situations, whether it’s a silent snap count or whatever we’ll have to do to operate. We have to do it as a unit, and that starts with the quarterback, but he’s shown good poise so far this year.”
There isn’t a whole lot you can do at practice to replicate the environment of a road game in the SEC, but the experience Young holds valuable is when he had the chance to view the team’s conference championship game last season. In 2020, Alabama’s Mac Jones and Florida’s Kyle Trask combined for eight total touchdowns in a 52-46 shootout in Atlanta.
“I think it was great for me to be able to watch that and to be there to be able to learn,” Young said. “Those were two quarterbacks playing really well and two teams playing really well. You could definitely see the heart they showed and the resiliency they showed.
“They were a team that was really, really good last year and a team that’s really, really good this year. It was a really good learning experience for me.”
Through the Crimson Tide’s first two games of the season Young has completed 70.8% of his passes for 571 yards and seven passing touchdowns going to five different receivers.
Saban was far from pleased with the offense in the team’s 48-14 win over Mercer last weekend, but his faith in his quarterback still holds true.
“I think Bryce has played well in both games,” Saban said. “I keep saying this — how did the players around him play? That’s what I think we need to continue to improve on — the overall timing of the passing game, the efficiency in runs and RPOs, and the things we try to tie into our offense. It’s the entire unit that has to grow and develop.
“We’re making progress, but we’re not there yet.”
*Get the BEST Alabama football insider information, message board access, and recruiting coverage today! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our subscriber only content!*
Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77