TUSCALOOSA, Alaska – Alabama quarterback Bryce Young missed a game and a half due to a shoulder injury sustained in Week 5 and was not a full practice participant until after the week.
Ahead of the last game of the Crimson Tide’s regular season, is Young back to full strength?
“Yes, I’m fine,” Young said Monday. “We have a great training staff, coaching staff that takes care of everything, both in practice and in the game. They do a great job of being on top of it. I only owe that to the training room. Being down there they do so much to make me feel healthy and good. Yes, I feel good. I am blessed with the circumstances I am in. I’m ready to keep pushing. I feel good now.”
Young will lead the Alabama offense against Auburn on Saturday, November 26, in what will be his second Iron Bowl start. Last year, he orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback to send the rivalry game into overtime and eventually win on the road at Jordan-Hare Stadium. With the 2022 matchup in Tuscaloosa, Young will look for another victory over the Tigers.
To do that, however, the line of attack will need to provide better protection to the signal caller. A season ago, Young was sacked seven times as the Tiger defense racked up 11 tackles for loss and eight quarterback hurries. All of those stats must go down for UA to win a third consecutive Iron Bowl, and Young said improvement has been highlighted.
“I think we’ve definitely grown a lot as a unit, as a group,” Young said. “Last year… it’s the Iron Bowl. It will always be hard fought, it will always be hard. We have tremendous respect for them as a program, and we know it takes everything. It was of course a difficult match, it came down to the wire. But it is the iron bowl. There have been countless. We understand that a rivalry game like this can happen.
“There are things that we obviously look at on film that we wanted to improve on and we’ve gotten better and better, but we understand that it takes everything. So we’re taking things to improve, but we’re ready. We know it’s going to be war.”
Young has thrown for 2,664 yards, 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions while completing 63.8 percent of his passes this season. He currently ranks third on Alabama’s career lists for touchdowns (72) and yards (7,692) and needs six touchdown passes to pass AJ McCarron (77) and 233 passing yards to pass John Parker Wilson (7,924) for second on both.
Young has reached those points in just 34 games and 25 as a starter for the Crimson Tide. But this weekend’s regular season finale could be not only his last home game, but also his last game in an Alabama uniform, should he choose not to play in the bowl game and focus on the NFL draft. An expected top-10 pick, Young did not comment on what he will be doing outside of the Iron Bowl.
“I’m just focused on one day at a time,” Young said. “I have not thought of anything in the future. All I care about now is this program. It is my job to do my best during the day to prepare myself and to put myself and us as a team in the best conditions. So that’s all I’ve been thinking about, my whole head has been busy.
“Again, I understand how much this means to us as a team, everyone in the state. This is a huge game. I have to do everything I can to put myself and us as a unit in the best conditions to be successful on Saturday.”
Whether Saturday is the last time Alabama fans can see Young play for the Tide, Young has represented the university in a top-notch fashion, which head coach Nick Saban pointed out on his radio show when a young fan asked how Young plays against AU.
“I think Bryce has gotten better and better, especially with his injury in the Arkansas game,” Saban said Thursday night. “It took him a while to get back where he could practice and do the things he needed to do to prepare for the game. And I think he will play very, very well. I think Auburn has a really good defense. They do a good job, especially up front. So it will be a challenge, but I think he will do extremely well.
“He’s done a great job, not just playing for us in Alabama and winning a Heisman Trophy while here, but you couldn’t wish for a more stylish man to represent your organization than Bryce Young and his family.” been to Alabama.”
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