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STUDY HALL WITH PROFESSOR BEN: What do we know about Cooper Bateman?

Ed Note: Because it’s never too early to fret, the good prof., Ben Litvin, joins us again to break down Cooper Bateman, one of the three options for the Alabama quarterback position for 2016-2017. From all accounts, Bateman was brought into the Ole Miss game to run the read option, and it was something of a disaster. Without further adieu, take heed for the Professor has the floor. .

For the third year in a row, Alabama will have a new starting quarterback. At most this is a three-man race featuring Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett, and David Cornwell … although conventional wisdom suggests that Cornwell, as of this moment, is a step behind the other two. Even at this point – especially when you consider how loaded Alabama is at almost every other position – it’s clear that the quarterback competition is going to dominate the headlines all offseason. The issue, however, is that we’ll all be writing about it from a place of ignorance. All we have on Barnett and Cornwell is some high school tape, which is of limited predictive value. Most of the words written about those two will be devoid of meaning.

However, while we don’t have all that much on Bateman, we do have something: the first four offensive drives – which spanned nearly the entire first half – of the Ole Miss game from this past year. Given that this is basically all we have on him, I thought it would be instructive to review all 31 plays – even the running plays – that took place over those four drives. Painful as it may be, this will give us at least a glimpse of Bateman’s strengths and weaknesses, along with (and this is why I’m including all the running plays) a peak at how the Alabama offense might look with Bateman at the helm. At the very least, let this serve as your one-stop shop for all that we have on Bateman. I’m not going to use this tape to make an overall assessment about him. The sample size is just way too small for that. Rather, I’m simply going to assess how he – and the entire offense – played in this game. Nothing more, nothing less. Let’s get to the tape.

Drive 1

Play 1
Bateman is in shotgun. The play is a jet sweep to Stewart.

Drive 1 Play 1

Play 2
Bateman is in pistol. This is the same exact play that produced Howard’s long catch and run vs. Clemson. The unblocked defender at the end of the line of the scrimmage crashes so Bateman keeps it and flips it to Howard for a big gain. Nice read by Bateman.

Drive 1 Play 2

Play 3
Bateman is in shotgun. This is a packaged play and, because of the light box count, Bateman gives to Henry.

Drive 1 Play 3

Play 4
Bateman is in pistol. I believe this is an option play with an arc block and not split zone. If so, the unblocked defender crashes hard meaning Bateman should’ve kept it.

Drive 1 Play 4

Play 5
Bateman is in pistol. This is split zone.

Drive 1 Play 5

Play 6
Bateman is in shotgun. Alabama is running a simple rub concept – designed to free up Foster on a slant pattern – against Ole Miss’s man-to-man defense. It works perfectly. This should be a simple pitch and catch for the first down but instead Bateman’s throw is way behind Foster, which forces him to slow down, allowing the Ole Miss defender to tackle him short of the line to gain.

Drive 1 Play 6

 

Drive 2

Play 1
Bateman is in shotgun. Fake jet sweep action to the left, counter to the right.

Drive 2 Play 1

Play 2
Bateman is in shotgun, with Henry to his left and Stewart to his right. It’s a sweep left to Stewart.

Drive 2 Play 2

Play 3
Bateman is in shotgun. This is a well-timed, accurate throw to Howard who’s running an outside breaking route. Howard doesn’t get enough depth on his route and he’s tackled short of the line to gain.

Drive 2 Play 3

*The drive is kept alive by an Ole Miss penalty on the punt.

Play 4
Bateman is in pistol. I believe this is a zone read with an arc block. The unblocked defender stays outside so Bateman properly gives the ball to Drake.

Drive 2 Play 4

Play 5
Bateman is under center. Counter to the right.

Drive 2 Play 5

Play 6
Bateman is in pistol. Split zone.

Drive 2 Play 6

Play 7
Bateman is in shotgun. He does a nice job reading the curl/flat defender here. Once he sees that defender sit on the short, outside breaking route he knows he has the corner route … and he hits Stewart with a well-timed strike for a nice gain.

Drive 2 Play 7

Play 8
Bateman is in pistol. If these are option plays the design is pretty strange and there really isn’t much chance for success. It’s possible that Bateman is reading #12. If so, he smartly gives the ball to Drake.

Drive 2 Play 8

Play 9
Bateman is in shotgun. This is the same play that produced Howard’s first touchdown vs. Clemson. The pressure forces him to come to his check-down immediately, which is well covered.

Drive 2 Play 9

Play 10
Bateman is in shotgun. This is a running back screen. Bateman delivers an accurate throw.

Drive 2 Play 10

Drive 3

Play 1
Bateman is in pistol. This is the same play that produced Howard’s long catch and run earlier. The end gets too far inside and Bateman should’ve kept this and then thrown it to Drake. Instead, he makes a poor read and gives to Henry.

Drive 3 Play 1

Play 2
Bateman is under center. Split zone. It works.

Drive 3 Play 2

Play 3
Bateman is under center. Split zone. It doesn’t work.

Drive 3 Play 3

Play 4
Bateman is under center. Counter left.

Drive 3 Play 4

Play 5
Bateman is in shotgun. Bateman makes a really nice throw on the corner route to Foster … impressive to throw it that accurately with pressure coming right into his face. Perfect touch.

Drive 3 Play 5

Play 6
Bateman is under center. Split zone.

Drive 3 Play 6

Play 7
Bateman is in shotgun. This is Alabama’s staple downfield, play-action pass play.  Ridley is running a go (sometimes it’s a post) over the top of Stewart’s crossing route. From the second he drops back, Bateman’s eyes never move … he’s completely locked onto Ridley the whole way.

Drive 3 Play 7

Play 8
Bateman is in shotgun. Fake jet sweep to right, inside zone to Henry.

Drive 3 Play 8

Play 9
Bateman is in pistol. Again, this is the same play as Howard’s long catch and run. The optioned defender crashes so Bateman correctly keeps and throws it to Mullaney … but the throw is way behind him. This is the second short throw that has been way off target.

Drive 3 Play 9

Play 10
Bateman is in shotgun. Accurate, well timed throw to Mullaney on a comeback route. This is the first time Bateman has really driven the ball (somewhat) downfield.

Drive 3 Play 10

Play 11
Bateman is in pistol. This is a zone read play. The optioned defender stays outside so Bateman actually makes the proper read and hands this off. Unfortunately, a second defender blitzing off the edge blows up the play.

Drive 3 Play 11

Play 12
Bateman is in shotgun. Jet sweep right.

Drive 3 Play 12

Play 13
Bateman is in shotgun. Nobody is open initially. Stewart improvises and breaks his route inside. Bateman’s throw is well behind him, another short throw that’s off target. Cue Adam Griffith.

Drive 3 Play 13

Drive 4

Play 1
Bateman is under center. Toss sweep left.

Drive 4 Play 1

Play 2
Bateman is in pistol. This is three verticals vs. man free defense. It’s possible that Stewart flattened his route out when he should’ve stayed vertical, but either way he was never open. In the end, just a really bad decision by Bateman and the end of his night.

Drive 4 Play 2

So, what does this all tell us? Maybe nothing. Cooper Bateman could become a completely different player than what we see above. But it’ll likely take a lot of work to do so.

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