I have two stats for you that pretty much sum up how this entire game flowed:
-Gehrig Dieter caught 3 passes for 1 yard and two touchdowns
-The defense had 0 sacks
All in all, it was a fairly abysmal performance against an FCS squad by the #1 team in the country. The final score was 31-3, but Chattanooga pretty much gifted the Tide with 14 points from unforced fumbles on a hand-off and trying to field a punt.
The Tide defense looked listless for much of the game- the vaunted pass rush went missing. Despite that, other than an impressive 10-play, 50-yard drive to open the game, the Chattanooga offense never managed to move the ball very far. Jonathan Allen, though he didn’t get a sack, was still a monster in the backfield and led the team in tackles for loss. Safety Ronnie Harrison actually led the team in tackles, which is good for him, but the fact that the last line of defense had to be that involved really highlights the fact that the whole front seven really took the day off.
They didn’t have the same fierceness we’re used to, but the defense did still hold the opposing team to 3 points on only one decent drive over an entire game, so you cant say too much. Reuben Foster hurt his hand and Jonathan Allen got up limping once, but both came back into the game and seemed fine.
The offense, on the other hand, looked a bit rough. Korren Kirven and Josh Casher split time at right guard, and it seemed to throw off the groove of the entire interior of the line. Jalen Hurts seemed to have to sidestep a free rusher every other time he dropped back to pass, and he, Josh Jacobs, and Damien Harris were hit in the backfield way too often.
Jalen Hurts opened the game with a 23 yard strike to Calvin Ridley and then a 20 yard scamper down the sidelines that would have been a much longer touchdown had the side of his foot not hit the out-of-bounds line. Unfortunately, Ridley dropped a great throw on a 10-yard out that would have converted a third down, and J.K. Scott booted his first of 6 punts away. He averaged 49 yards per punt on the night, and that number was slightly deflated due to the fact that two of his punts were intentionally hit short to try and pin the other team near their own endzone.
Chattanooga sold out after that to prevent Jalen Hurts from running at all, and it worked. He had a couple of decent runs, but for the most part, it seemed that Lane Kiffin was beating his head against the wall to no avail with the designed QB runs.
Hurts had two misfires, one was just an underthrown back-shoulder fade, while the other should have been a touchdown but was thrown three feet behind the receiver. He was within inches of being sacked when it was thrown though, so I can’t fault him for that one. Other than that, the rest of his passes seemed to be pretty crisp and on point tonight, notable his 47-yard laser beam to a streaking Calvin Ridley for the TD.
Damien Harris had some good runs mixed in with some bad ones, and ended the game with 91 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries, while Josh Jacobs only got 17 yards on 5 carries. During garbage time at the end of the game, Derrick Gore pulled off what might have been one of the most impressive 6-yard runs I’ve seen since the Trent Richardson days, as he broke multiple tackles behind the LOS and reversed field to get those 6 yards.
ArDarius Stewart and Bo Scarbrough did not play at all. Scarbrough is still dealing with some knee problems, and I have not seen the reason for Stewart’s absence yet, though I’m sure we’ll know soon. Cam Robinson left the game in the third quarter with what is said to be a minor injury of some sort. Korren Kirven slid over to man the left tackle spot, but then also left the game a few plays later with a pectoral injury diving for a fumbled ball. Both are reported to be minor issues and should be back next week for Auburn.
So, there wasn’t much insight to gain from this contest. The whole team looked fairly listless the whole night against a supremely overmatched FCS team. Jalen Hurts looked pretty good overall in the pocket, despite limited attempts and constant interior pressure. The back-ups didn’t even get very much playing time for us to watch. As long as the Cam Robinson injury is as minor as reported, then the best that we got out of that one is that there were no big injuries.
That, and maybe Coach Saban can use that egg of a performance to really motivate the team before Auburn. Until then, Roll Tide!