Jalen Hurts led the team in carries last season. Through two weeks this season, Jalen Hurts leads the team in both carries and rushing yards. In fact, go ahead and remove his rushing yards from the Florida State game; and he still has 49 more yards than second place Damien Harris.
Hurts has run the ball a lot, and he’s done it well. The Fresno State defense had no answer for him as he racked up 154 yards on the ground while adding another 124 yards through the air.
1st and 10: Hurts has just completed his first pass to a wide receiver not named Calvin Ridley on a quick screen to Cam Sims. The team gets set up in the shotgun again with Damien Harris a yard back and to his right. Hale Hentges is at H-back on the left, and Cam Sims and Robert Foster are wide right.
It’s a simple option with Hentges coming back across the line. The defensive end, Tobenna Okeke, is left unblocked; and he cheats in. Hurts keeps in and takes off. Hentges moves up and easily blocks the linebacker, driving him towards the sideline. Foster and Sims both got to the inside of the defensive backs and wall them out. Hurts sees the hole, cuts upfield, and hits the boost. He steps out of a tackle around the 20 yard line and just beats the safety to score.
3rd and 10: Hurts faces his first third down of the game, and it’s third and long. Damien Harris is on his left hip, and Irv Smith has his hand in the dirt on the right side of the line. Ridley is to the left, and Sims and Foster are to the right.
Hurts takes a three step drop and sees his first read, Ridley, is smothered by the defensive back. He then looks to the middle of the field and takes off. Both linebackers have blitzed, so there’s some green space. Hurts shoots through the line and gets some help from Irv Smith, who made the heads-up play to begin blocking. There’s enough of a lane, and Hurts easily picks up the first and then some.
2nd and 3: The formation is similar to the first gif except the receivers have flipped sides. Hurts takes the snap, takes one step back, and immediately goes to Ridley, who’s one-on-one with the cornerback. He doesn’t step into the throw; he just flings it. The pass is well beyond Ridley, and it falls incomplete. It was tight coverage, but Ridley never had the chance to try for a 50-50 ball.
1st and 10: Alabama trots out a two tight end set. Irv Smith is at H-back, and he motions left to right to join Hentges on that side. Earlier this drive, Hurts hit Bo Scarbrough for a 7 yard gain on a swing pass to the right.
Scarbrough flares out to the right again, and it draws the defenders in. Hurts looks left initially, freezing the deep safety in the middle of the field. He then looks back to his right, and Hentges is wide open for the easy touchdown toss. Both Hentges and Smith blew by the defenders and were open.
1st and 10: Brian Daboll will stick with what’s working, and Hurts running the ball is working. Damien Harris motions wide left, leaving Hurts with an empty backfield. There are only three down linemen, and the linebackers drop back expecting a pass with five wide. But it’s a quarterback draw for Hurts. He squirts through the line and makes one linebacker miss. It’s enough to get the first.
1st and 10: Alabama has 10 personnel (1 running back, 0 tight ends) out there with trips right. Harris is the running back, and he goes in motion just before the snap like it’s going to be another swing pass. This gets the middle linebacker to drop back and to that side of the field.
What’s been working for Alabama?
Of course it’s a designed run for Hurts. He dashes through the line and shakes the linebacker, gaining almost an extra 10 yards.
2nd and 5: Hurts is in the gun with Damien Harris at running back and Hentges at H-back. Jonah Williams is struggling with his rusher outside, so Hurts has to step up. Unfortunately, Lester Cotton has been beaten badly; and the defensive lineman is right in Hurts’ face. He does an excellent job of maintaining his balance as the 298lb defender is dragging him down, and he rifles a pass that almost reaches Cam Sims.
2 and 5: Alabama has trips left with Robert Foster the sole wideout on the right. Hurts takes the snap and looks right at Foster running a fly route. There’s no attempt to look off the safety. Hurts lofts it to Foster; and the deep safety, who’s 19 yards back, has plenty of time to drift over. The safety leaps and catches the ball in the air, but it pops out when he lands. Had Hurts placed this ball better, Foster could’ve had a shot at it. Instead of putting it on Foster’s outside shoulder, Hurts leads Foster inside. The earlier deep ball wasn’t a great pass, but it wasn’t awful. This is just straight awful, and it should’ve resulted in an interception.