Alabama football QB Bryce Young is the early Heisman Trophy favorite, but is that a good thing?| Hurt

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News

The first game of the season is in the books, and Bryce Young is probably where he wants to be as an Alabama football quarterback and not where he wants to be as a Heisman Trophy candidate.  

Young came out of Alabama’s win over Miami as the favorite at most of the prominent Las Vegas sports betting books, a fairly meaningless honor at this point except that the frontrunner generally has to perform at an extremely high level or risk the novelty factor. That happens because the major networks like ESPN and Fox don’t want to spend the next 13 weeks or so talking about the same guy, unless he was born on Krypton. 

At this point, the eyes of Heisman watchers are still fixed on the obvious: the starting quarterback for a national championship-contending team. That’s why Georgia’s J.T. Daniels and Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei are still among the top possibilities, slightly behind Young and Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. That’s especially true of Uiagalelei, who did very little against a very good Georgia defense but has a chance to build big statistics against a Clemson schedule that includes six or seven mediocre ACC teams, the remaining players from Bishop Sycamore and at least two species of small rabbits. 

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Young isn’t going to move the needle much against Mercer, either. He could, under a different coach, throw deep to Jameson Williams and John Metchie III all day and might pass for 500 yards that way. Instead, the idea is probably for Young to get a more limited amount of playing time against the Bears.

Also, while Nick Saban didn’t say this specifically on his Zoom call Monday, the Crimson Tide might want to run even more than it did against Miami for the sake of rushing-attack reps, if nothing else. So unless he is pulled underwater by Mercer or, more likely, a mermaid, Young probably will tread water for a week while some new sensation pops up out of some more prominently televised game. 

That’s fine with Saban, who saw what he wanted to see in the Miami game. 

“Bryce did a really good job,” Saban said Monday. “I thought he played very composed in the game, had lots of poise, made good decisions. But again for a first game, he’s going to be like everybody else. He’s going to look at it and say ‘there’s things that I could have done better,’ and that's going to be the focus for this week.”

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As a Heisman voter, I don’t even start thinking in terms of a ballot yet. If there were a sudden bulletin that we had to vote right now, I would, based on what I saw on a very hectic weekend, go with an all-defense ballot: Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr., Georgia’s Nakobe Dean and dynamic Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. 

The fact that the September front-runner doesn’t always win has worked in Alabama’s favor before. No one strongly considered DeVonta Smith as a candidate until mid-season, and by the time the race was over, he was several lengths ahead of the field. Young will get plenty of television exposure, which can be good or bad, in some of the biggest college games of the season, including upcoming games with Florida and Texas A&M.

That’s where the race, which hasn’t even started yet, will grow interesting. 

Reach Cecil Hurt at or via Twitter @cecilhurt