Leading into the 2021 season, John Metchie was the unquestioned go-to receiver on the Alabama offense with quarterback Bryce Young going as far as calling him the cornerstone of the unit.
Now with seven games out of the way, the Canadian-born “ryde-out” hasn’t quite had the eye-popping effect other Crimson Tide receivers have had in the past. Metchie’s second year as a full-time starter has seen its ups and downs in 2021, with some of his inconsistencies attributed to the injuries he entered the season with.
But at this point in the season, Metchie isn’t looking to use that as an excuse.
“It’s football, everybody that plays has knicks and knacks that they deal with and stuff like that,” Metchie said to reporters on Tuesday. “Felt good to begin the season — was probably just still dealing with a couple lingering things and things like that. But I feel good and like I said it’s just football, players all over the country and dealing with things all the time.”
On the season, Metchie has currently recorded 41 receptions for 480 yards and three touchdowns. He currently ranks fourth in the SEC in receptions and will likely exceed his season total of 55 from a year ago. But the yards department has seen a bit of a decline from the 2020 season. Although he has a chance to cross his 2020 total of 916 receiving yards, it’s his yards per reception that have taken a hit.
When comparing last season to this season, Metchie’s yards per reception have dropped from 16.7 yards per catch in 2020, down to 11.7 yards per reception in 2021 making it an even five yards shorter.
What’s been made clear is that the junior’s role has changed in the offense. He isn’t bursting past defensive backs for 40-yard gains as often and has transitioned to more of a possession receive running short and intermediate routes to pick up first downs for the Crimson Tide.
“From the beginning of the season, I’ve been getting a lot of shorter routes,” Metchie said. “A lot of bubbles. I guess that’s just the role I have to play. Going week to week, whatever our gameplan is, whatever the role I need to play, that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Adjusting to new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien’s game management has been a process for an offense that’s had to replace eight starters from a year ago and Metchie has seen his individual struggles as well. Against Texas A&M, Metchie dropped was responsible for three of Alabama’s six dropped passes in its upset loss to the Aggies, according to Pro Football Focus. He would bounce back the following week against
But glimpses of the 2020 Metchie were shown the following week Mississippi State with a seven-catch 117-yard day which included a touchdown reception and ironically enough, averaged 16.7 yards per reception.
His on-field production isn’t the only aspect of his role that’s evolved from a year ago. Metchie is now seen as a veteran and leader on offense, offering advice to the younger players on the roster, some of whom are dealing with the frustrations of limited playing time. But he believes that one of the best ways to show the younger players the way, is to lead by example.
“I think just by doing what I’m supposed to do,” Metchie said. “Which is work hard, work hard in practice, practice hard, and just lead by example really. I think that’s the only thing you really can do, is lead by example and uphold to the standard and try and continue the standard so that they can also continue the standard.”
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77