Nick Saban readily acknowledges that tight end O.J. Howard should have been a much more productive pass-catcher at the University of Alabama.
For his career with the Crimson Tide, Howard caught 114 passes for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns. His best season came in 2016, when he had 45 receptions for 595 yards and three scores.
‘He should have had much more production here relative to his ability’
But Saban says none of the blame should fall on Howard. According to the coach, the tight end was held back by a variety of surrounding factors.
“He should have had much more production here relative to his ability and what his strengths are,” Saban told Bob Papa and Greg McElroy on the Opening Drive. “And, fortunately or unfortunately, we didn’t have the complementary people around him to be able to make that happen, so it was no fault of his that he didn’t have the production. But it’s also a great credit to him that even though he’s a great receiver and could make a lot of big plays in vertical passing game, we asked him to block, we asked him to do whatever we asked him to do, and he just worked hard to improve on those aspects of his game, which ultimately probably made him a better player.
‘We did not utilize the resources he had from a talent standpoint’
“But we did not utilize the resources that he had from a talent standpoint, because whether we had a freshman quarterback who we didn’t throw the ball a lot with, and especially in the drop-back game, or whether we had another guy that was a better runner, it just never worked out that we had the type of offense that could actually take advantage of O.J.’s strengths.”