Nick Saban probably wondered how well his team would play on Saturday after such a huge win on college football’s grand stage in Week 1. The answer was not exactly what the coach had in mind in terms of execution but, against an overmatched opponent like Fresno State, it didn’t exactly matter much either.
The Crimson Tide kicked off the year at home in Tuscaloosa in a fashion that was oh so familiar to many of their fans, running right over the Bulldogs all day long for a 41-10 victory that wasn’t as close as that score line indicated.
Case in point? Quarterback Jalen Hurts needing just two plays to scamper 55 yards for the game’s opening touchdown and spending most of the second half looking on as his talented protegé Tua Tagovailoa (6/9, 64 yards and a TD) saw his first extended action of the year for the team in the fourth quarter.
Hurts had over 100 yards through the air and on the ground well before halftime and finished a rather ho-hum three quarters-worth of work with 154 yards rushing (plus two touchdowns) and an efficient 14/18 passing with a score as well. The focal point of the offense seemed to come up with all of the team’s big plays early in the game but also benefited from a backfield that just grinded out yard on drive after drive (8.2 yards a carry overall). Five-star freshman Najee Harris looked solid running the ball with 70 yards after just light work from Bo Scarbrough (36 yards) and Damien Harris (32 yards, one touchdown).
Perhaps the biggest takeaway of the contest was that Fresno State came to play in their first big test under new (but veteran) coach Jeff Tedford. The Bulldogs, who were 1-11 last year, only turned the ball over once and moved the ball during several promising drives offensively. They also looked vastly improved on the defensive side of the ball despite sporting a new coordinator calling plays in just his second college football game ever — on the road against the No. 1 team no less.
The victory won’t do anything to change voters’ mind about the Tide’s ranking in the polls but you can bet that Saban will harp quite a bit on cleaning up the little things in practice this week. It was indeed a typical Alabama game against a Group of Five opponent but that doesn’t mean the home team was perfect at the end of the day either.