Here's the best part of Bryce Young's first start for Alabama football | Toppmeyer
It was that coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien trust Young enough to call that play in that situation.
One play earlier, Young nearly was sacked in the end zone for a safety. He escaped the pocket and threw an incompletion to avoid Miami scoring two points. That set up third down from Alabama’s 6-yard line.
The Crimson Tide had a 24-point lead at that juncture in the third quarter. The safe move would have been to run the ball and punt.
Instead, Young stood in the pocket and uncorked a downfield beauty to Jameson Williams to eliminate any thought of Miami making a competitive game of a contest that ended in a 44-13 victory for No. 1 Alabama (1-0).
Alabama showed no caution on Saturday when it came to Young. Clearly, Saban believes in the sophomore, who was making his first career start.
“It's definitely a lot of fun, but we have a lot of growth and a lot of improvement left to do,” Young said of his debut.
If there’s a lot of improvement left for Young after Saturday, when he threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns, the rest of college football ought to be concerned.
Throughout the preseason, Saban expressed confidence in Young, the former five-star recruit who served as Mac Jones’ backup last season. Saban’s bigger concern seemed to be what kind of support Young would receive from the players around him.
At least for one game, the support was plenty sufficient.
John Metchie III and Williams are a formidable one-two receiving combo, and Brian Robinson Jr. ran with a sense of passion as the featured running back.
The support for Young spilled over into the postgame news conference.
Linebacker Will Anderson Jr. gave Young a few congratulatory pats on the back as Young discussed his first start, and tight end Cameron Latu and Young shook hands after discussing their two touchdown connections.
Alabama’s new quarterback appears to have the full backing of his team.
Young’s debut start received high marks from Saban, who applauded his quarterback’s poise, command of the offense and willingness to take what the defense gave him.
“I think Bryce did really, really well,” Saban said. “He's smart. Most people just look at the stats, … but, you know, he redirects the protection, he plays like a veteran out there.”
Sometimes you’ll see a coaching staff script a few basic, confidence-building throws to begin the game for a young quarterback.
But instead of having Young flip a wide receiver screen for his first pass Saturday, Alabama dialed up a deep shot. Young just missed connecting with Williams, who stumbled at the end of his route.
Once again, the throw didn’t say as much as the play call.
“To know we were going to take a shot early and for him to trust me and not try to hold back or changing the play calls, that means a lot,” Young said. “And I felt like that was trust I was trying to build and establish in the offseason. But having that trust from Coach Saban and (O’Brien), it means a lot to me.”
And it means Alabama’s offense is going to be fine with its new quarterback.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.