The first three practices of Alabama’s bowl prep were, as left tackle Jonah Williams called it, camp junior. It’s an annual December throwback to August when the Crimson Tide hits the fundamentals before thinking about the next opponent.
That ended Monday when scout-team jerseys came out and the installation of an Oklahoma-centric game plan began. The two will meet in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl for a spot in the College Football Playoff championship.
With an offense as dynamic as the Sooners’ and a quarterback as explosive as Kyler Murray, mimicking that on scout team can be a challenge. So how does Alabama find someone to play the part of the Heisman Trophy winner who can burn defenses with either his right arm or both legs?
“I don’t know that you really can,” Nick Saban said. “The guy is so quick, so fast, so talented. Makes really good decisions, makes them fast. Does a great job of executing their offense, understands it well. They’ve got a really good system and a really good scheme and a complimentary play that goes with the last play. They do a really good job. I don’t know that you can.”
The Sooners lead the nation in both yardage (577.9 a game) and points (49.5 a game). Murray has accounted for nearly 5,000 total yards including 4,053 through the air.
“If we have somebody that can duplicate what he does,” Saban said, “we’d be playing them.”
When Alabama needed an athletic quarterback earlier this season, it turned to freshman receiver Slade Bolden. Though he hasn’t played since the opener against Louisville, Bolden is valuable because of his background as a high school quarterback. As a senior at West Monroe (La.) High School, Bolden threw for 1,622 yards and 20 touchdowns while also racking up 1,460 rushing yards.
“You can tell he has a feel for it,” Alabama safety Deionte Thompson said, “so he does a good job giving us pictures of what we’re going to see in the game.”
Bolden was a big part of the prep for The Citadel’s triple option look.
“He’s fast, I feel like he can throw the ball as well,” Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson said. “He gave us a great look the Citadel game and I feel like he’ll give us a great look today too.”