The Tuscaloosa News’ Brett Hudson will give post-game analysis every week from every game from Alabama's 2019 season.
ATLANTA — No. 2 Alabama worked through a scoreless first quarter to beat Duke 42-3 with 71,916 people in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Well at least we got a weird start, and let’s appreciate that because September could otherwise lack intrigue in these parts.
– In going for 367 yards, Alabama threw for over 300 yards in a season opener for the first time since 2010 (334 against San Jose State).
– Tua Tagovailoa has now thrown four or more passing touchdowns in a game seven times, which ties the school record set by AJ McCarron.
– Jerry Jeudy’s 137 receiving yards and Jaylen Waddle’s 90 gave UA two receivers with 90+ yards, something Alabama did only four times last season. It took the 2018 Crimson Tide five games to accomplish this feat for the first time.
– Alabama has yet to lose a season opener under Nick Saban, and most of them weren’t close: the average final score is 40.6-11.1 and the average yards gained battle is 441.8-206.5.
– Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III have the same number of career touchdown receptions, 17. They are tied for fourth in school history with DJ Hall. Amari Cooper holds the career record with 31.
– Every Alabama kick was taken by Will Reichard: both field goal attempts, both punts and all seven kickoffs.
What about this game will be remembered in January?
The game when concerns suddenly shifted from linebacker play to offensive line play.
– “I think the goal that we had for this game was to try to reestablish our identity as a team in terms of the discipline that we played with and the kind of toughness and accountability, and everybody putting the team first. I don’t think one game sort of reestablishes anything. I think you’ve got to do it over time, and I think you have to do it as a team and everybody has got to buy into it, and hopefully this group has been good that way.”
– On the offensive line: “We knew this was going to be a difficult task for us up front. This team is a little quicker and do a lot of stunting and plugging backers, which we knew would cause some problems for us in the running game. I would say we need to do better up front, probably on a consistent basis.”
– On freshman OL Emil Ekiyor Jr.’s injury: “I think Emil probably has a little bit of a knee injury. I don’t think it’s a real bad thing. He may be out for a week or two, but I don’t think it’s something really bad. It’s something he’s had before. Most of the time those things are not that significant, but we’ll get him an MRI and check him out to make sure.”
– WR Jerry Jeudy on QB Tua Tagovailoa: “Tua’s doing what Tua does. He’s making plays and doing what he needs to do to be the best player he can be. That’s how Tua does.”
– LB Terrell Lewis on his return: “It was a blessing, being able to play the game I love again and being able to play against somebody else, get the butterflies and jitters out the way. Make it out of this stadium healthy.”
– DL Raekwon Davis: “That loss (Clemson) is in the back of our heads. It’s going to be there and be a taste in our mouth. We just have to play our opponents like they are Clemson. Every game. That’s how we’re looking at it.”
Leading the way
Top 3 rushers: Jerome Ford (UA) 10-64 1 TD, Najee Harris (UA)12-52, Brittain Brown (Duke) 7-36.
Top 3 receivers: Jerry Jeudy (UA) 10-137 1 TD, Jaylen Waddle (UA) 5-90, DeVonta Smith (UA) 5-54 1 TD.
Top 3 defenders: Dylan Singleton (Duke) 13 tackles and a forced fumble; Koby Quansah (Duke) 11 tackles, one for a loss and a sack; Shaka Heyward (Duke) 9 tackles, one for a loss.
Against the spread
Many books fell somewhere between favoring the Tide by 34 and 35 points, and Alabama covered both. The 45 total points fell well below the common over/under of 57 to 58 points — which in some places was bet down from opening as high as 60 or more.
Alabama hosts New Mexico State at 3 p.m. on SEC Network. The two schools have never met in football.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Brett_Hudson