Top-ranked Alabama made easy work of Fresno State on Saturday in a 41-10 win in its home opener. And while it was only Fresno State, one of the worst teams in the FBS last season, there still are takeaways to be had from the game.
Here are four from the victory, which moves the Crimson Tide to 2-0 on the season.
There’s no quarterback competition – but Tagovailoa will play
Tua Tagovailoa hit the field for the first time early in the second quarter, but it obviously wasn’t because starting quarterback Jalen Hurts was struggling. In Alabama’s four first-half offensive series with Hurts, the Crimson Tide scored four touchdowns. In the one that Tagovailoa played, it punted. (Hurts was 12-of-13 for 112 yards and one touchdown, along with 119 yards and two touchdowns on seven rushing attempts in that time.) Yes, Tagovailoa played with the first-team offense when he first went to the game, but it seemed more like a chance for the true freshman to get some truly meaningful reps under his belt rather than an open competition. After all, Saturday was his debut and he is the backup – one who also happened to be a particularly highly ranked prospect. He returned to action in the fourth quarter and had some miscues but finished nicely with a touchdown pass. In any case, the coaching staff knows Tagovailoa is too good not to put out on the field some.
Right tackle could still be up for grabs
When Tagovailoa went in for Hurts for a series in the second quarter, he wasn’t the only new player getting on the field for the first time: True freshman Jedrick Wills took over at right tackle for sophomore Matt Womack for the series. It’s been noted by Nick Saban that there is a particularly close competition at right tackle. Womack looks to have the edge, but Wills is up there. Last season, right guard was a rotating position for the Crimson Tide, so there’s a precedent if any change is made.
Red zone deficiencies?
Maybe the sample size is too small, but through two games, Alabama hasn’t been great in the red zone. Against Florida State, it had just one touchdown and three field goals, then followed it up with two field goals and two touchdowns in the area against Fresno State. Granted, Florida State probably has one of the better defenses in the nation and one of the red zone field goals against Fresno State came with the backups playing, but that shouldn’t be a total pass. To the Crimson Tide’s credit, though, it also hasn’t come up empty-handed on any red zone possessions to this point this season.
New starters, no problem
Alabama had four first-time starters – cornerback Levi Wallace, defensive lineman Raekwon Davis and linebackers Keith Holcombe and Jamey Mosley – and each did well. Wallace and Davis could be taking firm control of their spots – each of which had some room for competition entering the season. Holcombe, a junior, is a temporary starter in place of Rashaan Evans but looks to be a capable one if he’s needed in the role longer. Mosley, another junior, was around the ball plenty, though his spot may be a little more unclear because of the number of seemingly capable outside linebackers on the Alabama roster. He could possibly start in place of Christian Miller, who is out for the season with injury, moving forward or return to a backup role once Anfernee Jennings returns from his own injury.
(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)
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