This was supposed to be the year Alabama sophomore wide receiver Amari Cooper took his game to the next level after a dynamite freshman season, but he has been more of a dud for the Crimson Tide after three games.
After the first month of the season, Cooper has a paltry nine receptions for 100 yards and has failed to reach the end zone. He is the Tide’s fifth-leading receiver, has yet to record more than 38 yards in a game and his longest catch of the season is for only 21 yards — he had 10 games last year with a catch for more than 21 yards — so it’s time to panic in Tuscaloosa, right?
Do not hit the panic button when it comes to the 6-foot-1, 202-pound Miami native. Cooper was a slow starter last season too en route to a 59-catch, 1,000-yard season with 11 TDs and only had five receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown in his first three games last season.
After Cooper’s slow start, he took off and in the ensuing four games averaged six receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown. He took his game to another level after that and finished his season with more than 100 yards in four of the last five games with six touchdowns, including two in the BCS National Championship Game.
It’s just a matter of time before he has a game with 150 yards and two or three touchdowns, because he is too good to be held in check for this long.
Championships aren’t won in September, and the cautious approach Nick Saban took with him in Week 3 (he held him out with a toe injury) will benefit him in the months and games ahead. Dominating in September means nothing if you’re not able to dominate in January, and that’s the approach Saban is taking.
Furthermore, he has allowed other teammates to thrive as he dominates the coverage defenses show him, and that makes the offense less reliant on one receiver as they were at times last season.
Sure, it would be great to see Cooper making opposing secondaries look as helpless as he did last season when he built a case for the Biletnikoff Award, but Alabama doesn’t need him against Colorado State or Georgia State. Alabama needs Cooper to be the player we were introduced to last year when Alabama plays LSU in November and potentially (likely) in the SEC Championship Game.
Don’t worry about Cooper, as this is not a sophomore slump — it’s a little bump in the road and he will be back to dominating corners and safeties like he did last year in no time.