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Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart being used as decoys...?

on 1/04/2017

Crimson Tide Football:

The struggles that Hurts experienced coincided with disappearing acts of Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart. It was shocking to see the box score at the end of the game and notice that Alabama's two top receivers had two passes aimed at them.

After the victory, Kiffin acknowledged that the Tide was hesitant to test cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Kevin King and instead decided to channel the ball between the numbers. 


Kiffin's conscious decision to avoid the perimeter is one of the reasons why Alabama ran only one jet sweep with Stewart during the entire game and that happened late in the fourth quarter.

For the better part of the game, Stewart and Ridley were reduced to decoys. Asked about why he was targeted only twice, Ridley said, "
I don't know. I really don't know. I'm just running my routes."

In many ways, the roles Ridley and Stewart played dovetailed with a strategy that was centered on deception. Kiffin incorporated a lot of pre-snap motion that suggested Alabama was planning to execute a jet sweep as a way to confuse a defense he said was adept at diagnosing plays.

"
That had been a big part of what we were doing so use that more as a disguise and try to run more play-action off of that," Kiffin said.

It was a good idea. It just didn't work. As Pro Football Focus noted, 70 percent of Hurts' dropbacks featured a run fake, but he averaged only 3.6 yards per attempt when that play-action device was used. In one such instance, Hurts looked for Ridley, who was running a nine-route down the sideline. 


Hurts, however, failed to pull the trigger and instead scrambled for a nine-yard gain in the third quarter.

Ridley's reaction?

"
I don't know," he said. "I just go out there and execute every play I'm told."


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