It took a little bit for the Alabama offense to get going, but it made up for lost time once it did.
The Crimson Tide’s first three drives ended with a three-and-out, fumble and a missed field goal.
Then Bama scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to roll its way to a 42-3 win over Duke on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game.
More touchdowns came in the second half as Tua Tagovailoa tossed three touchdowns on the Tide’s first three drives of the third quarter to keep things rolling.
The junior quarterback finished the game 26-of-31 for 336 yards and four touchdowns as his last snap came late in the third quarter.
It’s safe to say Steve Sarkisan’s first game back as Alabama’s offensive coordinator since he had the role for the 2017 national title game against Clemson — a game Alabama narrowly lost — was a success.
“I think Sark did a good job in the game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “You never know how first games are going to go. I think we started out a little bit trying to run the ball and then we just decided, hey, they way they’re playing, we’re going to have to throw the ball on first down and get the ball to our playmakers’ hands on the perimeter.”
Getting out on the perimeter allowed for a career day for Jerry Jeudy. The junior receiver had a career-high 10 catches for 137 yards and one touchdown.
Middle linebacker Dylan Moses suffered an ACL tear Tuesday and announced on his Instagram before the game kicked off that his surgery was “successful.” His absence meant that two true freshman linebackers — Christian Harris and Shane Lee — started.
Harris and Lee each recorded six tackles.
“We got some things thrown at us early in the game that was totally different, sort of a double wing, almost wishbone-type stuff,” Saban said. “We had never practiced that before. But they did a good job adapting with the run reads and they did a pretty good job in coverage for the most part.”
True freshman kicker Will Reichard — a Hoover High School alum — missed both of his field goal attempts, from 49 and 48 yards out. He made all of his extra points and had a touchback on all seven of his kickoffs.
“Will did great,” Saban said. “He kicked a lot of touchbacks, which shows his leg strength. I think he hit both field goals really well. It’s a little unlucky that both of them hit the pole. But hopefully he’ll be able to gain confidence and improve on that in the future.”
UNSPORTSMANLIKE ON SABAN?
After Trevon Diggs intercepted a pass, Alabama received a sideline infraction warning after celebrating. Saban wasn’t happy about it, let the referees know and then was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct flag.
“Undisciplined,” Saban said of himself getting the penalty. “You know, one of the things we wanted to establish here was discipline and the coach did a poor job in his leadership of setting a good example for how you’re supposed to be disciplined.
“But I guess my reaction was the kids are having fun. [Diggs] intercepts the ball, everybody jumps up and down on the sideline and we get a flag. … But I deserved it. I’m not making any excuses for it. It’s the first time it’s happened. I don’t remember the last time it happened, but it’s been a long time. But I’ll learn something from that, too.”