On a day that saw six AP Top 25 teams lose (four of them to unranked teams) and another go to overtime with Army, Alabama handled business with a 62-10 win over New Mexico State.
Tweet length review of the game
Nick Saban’s postgame anger was more intriguing than the game itself, as has happened before in these blowouts.
Did you know?
• This week’s episode of Alabama wide receivers rewriting the school record book: Henry Ruggs III is now tied for fourth in school history with 18 career receiving touchdowns and Jerry Jeudy is now second in school history with 20. Jeudy is also the first UA receiver in 20 years to go six straight games with a receiving touchdown, obviously dating back through last year’s postseason.
• Jeudy is just the second UA player since 2000 to have 18 receptions in the first two games of the season. The other was Amari Cooper in 2014, who caught 25 passes in the first two games.
• Alabama has had two or fewer runs of 70 yards or more in every season since 2010. It had two such plays against New Mexico State: Henry Ruggs III’s first-play touchdown and Keilan Robinson’s 74-yard touchdown run.
• UA hasn’t attempted 30 or more passes in each of its first two games of a season since 2014. Then, Alabama went 24-for-33 against West Virginia and 27-for-38 against Florida Atlantic; this year’s Crimson Tide is comparable from a percentage standpoint, going 30-for-36 against Duke and 21-for-33 against New Mexico State.
• Alabama has thrown for more first downs this season (28) than its defense has allowed first downs of any kind (25). The Crimson Tide has also run for 24 first downs and gained one by penalty for a total of 53 first downs, which is tied for 19th in the nation and second in the SEC, only one behind Missouri.
• Tua Tagovailoa quickly became one of just eight UA quarterbacks to throw for 5,000 career yards, entering the game with 4,936. He currently has 5,163 and will climbs the record books quickly in the weeks to come: he is 463 yards behind Jalen Hurts, 526 yards behind Jay Barker and 528 yards Greg McElroy, who is fifth in school history. Tagovailoa will have to average 296.6 yards per game over the rest of the regular season, the SEC Championship game and two College Football Playoff games to break AJ McCarron’s school record of 9,019 yards.
What about this game will be remembered in January?
Will Reichard made two field goals of over 40 yards, after UA made three such kicks all of last season.
Quoting Nick Saban
• “I was not pleased with the way they (the second-stringers) executed. Our expectation for those guys is that they play to the same standard everyone else does. They practice, they know what to do, they should go out and execute.”
• On Jeudy: “Jerry is a smart player. He plays hard. He’s got a good understanding of the offense, and he has a good understanding of what people do to try and stop him on defense. A lot of plays he is very effective on. He caught some RPOs today, some bubble passes and things like that. He is effective catching the linemen on a short gain, but he is really difficult to cover down the field. He is a pretty complete guy when it comes to being a really good receiver.”
Quoting the Crimson Tide
• Safety Xavier McKinney after leading the team in tackles: “I pride myself on tackling, even in practice.I do not worry about it too much, but when the play comes to me, I want to make the tackle. I want to make sure I’m set up in the right position to make that tackle.”
Quoting the opponent
• New Mexico State coach Doug Martin on Tagovailoa: “I think obviously it’s his knowledge of the game. Probably from last year to where he is now, he’s probably light years as far as checking plays in the line of scrimmage and checking protections. You can see him, they’re giving him more to do, it look like, and he’s handling it really well. It just looks like he understands the game really well.”
• RB Jason Huntley on playing Alabama: “It’s a good experience, makes you open your eyes, see real football, like a lot of NFL-caliber players over there. Real competition.”
One man’s very arbitrary top four players of the game, in no particular order.
• Jeudy: 8 catches, 103 yards, 3 touchdowns. The man is one of just four receivers in the nation to have 18 or more catches at this point.
• McKinney: 6 tackles, one quarterback hurry, one forced fumble. It’s more than just being the team leader in tackles. He had to move around the field a little bit as UA was testing out some different defensive back combinations, particularly at the deep safety positions that he often occupies.
• Tagovailoa: 16-for-24, 227 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, plus a 25-yard touchdown run. The quote above from Martin about Tagovailoa’s mental workload, combined with the obvious throwing ability and the touchdown run, make Tagovailoa every bit the threat he was supposed to be this season.
• Reichard: made field goals of 48 and 49 yards, made all eight PATs and had a 39-yard punt. It’s far too early to definitively deem Alabama’s kicking woes dead, but Reichard certainly has built up more justifiable optimism than any of his predecessors.
Against the spread
New Mexico State’s field goal with 10 minutes left got it inside of the 54 1/2- to 55-point spread that was most common among books. Alabama nearly hit the over/under of 65 by itself, so adding the Aggies’ points made that over the winner.
No. 2 Alabama opens SEC play with a road trip to South Carolina, 2:30 (3:30 in Columbia) on CBS. South Carolina will start a freshman quarterback, Ryan Hilinski, after multi-year starter Jake Bentley was injured.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or email@example.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson