In looking for ways to run the ball on Alabama, Duke coach David Cutcliffe left no stone unturned. He proved it by installing a flexbone system and using it to some success in the first quarter. It’s a system used almost exclusively by Army, Navy and Georgia Southern in today’s college football, but Duke found it a useful tool both for its personnel and as a curveball of sorts for Alabama.

“We got some things thrown at us early in the game that was totally different, sort of a double-wing, almost wishbone type stuff,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We had never practiced that before.”

Duke used it in its second possession and nearly scored with it, ultimately being stopped on fourth-and-1 on the Alabama 7-yard line. The Blue Devils also used some shotgun two-back option in the next possession, which was derailed by a false start.

“We were trying to find ways to run the ball better,” Cutcliffe said. “I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get a couple of things done more clearly with it. I thought it was really read, but it’s very difficult to scrimmage that against your own defense.

“So a little bit of our first look at it, and something that we’re going to continue to tinker with because we’ve got some really good backs, and we’re going to try to find a way to run the ball better.”

 

Alabama firsts

Several freshmen got their first starts for the Crimson Tide: Jerome Ford (running back), Will Reichard (punter/kicker), DJ Dale (defensive tackle), Shane Lee (linebacker), Christian Harris (linebacker), Evan Neal (offensive line). Several other players made their first start: Landon Dickerson (OL), Chris Owens (OL), Josh Jobe (DB) and Jared Mayden (DB).

 

Major accomplishment

Sophomore tight end Major Tennison caught his first career touchdown, a 1-yard grab in the third quarter that put Alabama ahead 21-3. It's just his third catch in nine games played.

 

Tidebits

The attendance for Saturday’s opener was 71,916, an announced sellout, the seventh straight sellout in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic … Receiver Jerry Jeudy had 10 catches, most in a game since ArDarius Stewart in 2016. Jeudy finished with 137 yards and it is the first 10-reception game of his career … Alabama holds the second longest active win streak in season openers in the FBS with 18 wins, dating back to 2002. Ohio State leads at 20.