Even though they lost a pair of wide receivers to the first round of the NFL Draft over the past two drafts, Alabama has a pair of future NFL receivers again in Jameson Williams and John Metchie III. Both of them dominated Miami in the season opener.
On the first drive of the game Metchie got open down field to convert a third-and-long, and to end the drive Metchie sat down in busted coverage without a defender close. After making the reception he darted down the field before diving into the end zone with a 37-yard touchdown. Metchie caught six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Metchie is not a big receiver, but he has dangerous speed and runs good routes. He could end up grading out as a future NFL starter.
In the third quarter Williams burned Miami cornerback D.J. Ivey and Bryce Young lofted in the ball perfectly to hit Williams in stride. Williams raced for a 94-yard touchdown in a statement play for his new team. Versus Miami, Williams caught four passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.
In 2020 Williams was buried on the depth chart at Ohio State recording only nine catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns for the Buckeyes. The 6-foot-2, 189-pounder showed some serious speed in his 2021 debut and Williams could become a serious pro prospect during his junior season with Alabama.
Miami safety Bubba Bolden was a breakout player for the Hurricanes in 2020, and he decided to return for 2021. Unfortunately Bolden only played the first quarter versus Alabama, but it was an eventful 15 minutes. Bolden made a quality tackle in run support, but he missed a tackle on a blitz up the middle as Bolden whiffed on Bryce Young. Shortly later Bolden covered a receiver well in the end zone and broke up a pass to force a field goal. At the end of the first quarter Bolden was hit with one of the stupid targeting penalties that diminish college football, and that slapped Bolden with an ejection. Bolden needs to improve his tackling and avoid taking bad angles, but he has the potential to be a day-two pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
With Alex Leatherwood in the NFL, Alabama moved junior Evan Neal from right tackle to the left side for the 2021 season. The 6-foot-7, 350-pound Neal is a massive blocker that is tough in the ground game and moves well for his size. In his debut at left tackle for the Crimson Tide, Neal performed well being rock solid in pass protection and generating movement in the ground game. Miami lost Jaelan Phillips to the NFL and their young edge rushers were not a very difficult test for Neal. Last year Florida’s edge rushers gave Neal problems in the SEC Championship, so it will be interesting to see how Neal performs in the rematch later this month.
Miami junior left tackle Zion Nelson really struggled against the Alabama edge rushers. Nelson was getting pushed around, reacting late, and losing his balance. This was an ugly game that saw Nelson and the rest of the Hurricanes offensive line allow their quarterback D’Eriq King to take a beating. If Nelson does not have a complete turnaround the rest of the year he should definitely return for his senior year.