ArDarius Stewart may take on a more prominent role than usual in the Alabama offense this week.
The Crimson Tide’s top wideout is normally sophomore Calvin Ridley. Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness notes, however, that Stewart will likely be the one covered by Texas A&M CB Nick Harvey. And that’s a major advantage for Alabama.
“While Stewart has a solid overall grade, coming in at 75.4,” McGuinness said, “it towers over Harvey’s 40.3 2016 season grade, and makes this a potentially huge mismatch that Texas A&M need to be very careful of.”
Stewart is averaging 14.6 yards per reception this season, including 11.1 yards after the catch. That’s a big number, but it’s not as much as what Harvey allows: 16.1 yards per catch, according to PFF. If he’s giving up that number of yards on average, what will he allow to a receiver like Stewart?
The junior Alabama receiver has also forced eight missed tackles on 26 catches. Harvey has five missed tackles on his own in 2016, and McGuinness also noted that the Aggies secondary has struggled with missed tackles for much of the year.
Ridley typically gets most of the buzz, but the numbers say this matchup could mean a huge day for Stewart.
“If Texas A&M is to have a shot at winning this game, players like Harvey are going to have to step up and avoid mistakes,” McGuinness said, “because Stewart is a missed tackle away from taking a screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown.”