Jalen Hurts came off the bench against USC and grabbed the majority of the snaps, despite Blake Barnett getting the start. Against Western Kentucky, Jalen Hurts got the start; the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Tide since 1984. Barnett was in for a few series, but this was once again the Jalen Hurts show.
1st and 10: Alabama trots out their familiar 11 personnel, with Bo Scarbrough and O.J. Howard as the running back and tight end respectively. ArDarius Stewart is to the right, and Calvin Ridley is wide left while Gehrig Dieter is in the slot. It’s a play fake to Scarborough to the right, and Hurts bootlegs back to the left. The receivers all flood into the left side of the field. Hurts initially looks at Howard in the flat but quickly moves on to Ridley on a go route. Ridley’s one-on-one with the, and Hurts goes that way. He launches a tight spiral about 57 yards while on the run. Ridley goes up and brings it down for the huge gain.
2nd and 7: Bama busts out a double tight end set, with Hale Hentges on the left and Brandon Greene on the right. Ridley’s on the left, and Stewart’s on the right. Hurts fakes the handoff to Scarbrough (who helps Jonah Williams with a nice block). Stewart and Ridley both go deep towards to the left sideline, and Hurts has all day on this one. He pauses and pauses and pauses before letting it go. I’m not sure if he underthrew Ridley or overthrew Stewart (I think it’s this one), but it wasn’t close for either one. The defender catches it, but he’s well out of bounds. Hurts has that cannon, but he’s still working on his touch.
3rd and 7: The offense has been struggling, and they’re at risk of wasting the opportunity from Ronnie Harrison’s interception. They bring two tight ends again, but Howard is in for Greene here. Stewart (right) and Ridley (left) are still the two wideouts. Hurts takes the snap out of the shotgun and just stares down Ridley, who’s running a curl route right to the marker. Hurts fires a nice pass, and Ridley makes a little move to pick up the first. You don’t like to see him staring his target down, but it is only a three step drop.
1st and 10: Alabama keeps the 12 personnel but brings in Miller Forristall to replace Hentges. Howard and Forristall line up wide right with ArDarius Stewart. Ridley is wide left. Western Kentucky has three defenders to match the trips, but the Hilltoppers send one on a corner blitz. Hurts has a run/pass option, and he correctly knows to pull the ball and throw to Stewart since they now have numbers on the right. He gets the pass out, avoiding the blitzing corner, and hits Stewart. Howard and Forristall do their thing, and Stewart dashes for 18 yards.
3rd and 10: Hurts and the offense are facing another 3rd and long on this drive. They’re back with 11 personnel with the usual receivers, two to the left, one to the right; and Howard is down on the right side of the line. Hurts initially looks to Stewart on his right, but that’s covered. He moves to his second read, Howard on a deep dig route. He waits half a beat instead of pulling the trigger right way, but he rifles the ball into a tiny window over the linebacker and in front of the corner. 20 yard gain, and the offense is on their 4 yard line.
2nd and 7: Hurts is lined up in the pistol with Stewart (right) and Ridley (left) as his wide receivers. He takes the high snap and fakes the handoff to Bo Scarbrough to the left and loops back to his right. Stewart has his man beat down field. Hurts again waits a hair too long before throwing it; and Stewart has to slow down and come back for it, which gives the defensive back time to get back. Incomplete.
1st and 10: Ridley is wide left, and the cornerback is giving him a huge cushion. Hurts sees this pre-snap. It’s an RPO, but Hurts knows exactly what he’s doing. He gets the snap and immediately turns to fire a pass to Ridley, who has turned back for the smoke screen. It’s a low pass, but Ridley snags it and makes his man miss to pick up the first down and then some.
1st and 10: Stewart (out of screen) and Dieter are on the right with Dieter in the slot. Hurts is in the pistol, and he fakes the handoff to Damien Harris. The playaction doesn’t fool the linebackers for long, but it’s just enough. Dieter runs a crossing route and gets behind them. #6 T.J. McCollum spots Dieter and desperately tries to run back to cover him, but the second delay proves too much. Hurts waits for it to develop and unloads with great timing. He gets it just over the defenders, and Dieter catches it with room to run.