Finally, there’s new film to review!
Another year, another season opening win for Alabama. Florida State was the best of the teams the Crimson Tide has faced in its openers, and that showed. The score was 10-7 until late in the 3rd quarter when key plays on special teams helped open it up. Once there was blood in the water, it was all over for the Seminoles.
1st and 10: Hurts just dashed for 18 yards to set the offense up near midfield. They’re lined up in the pistol with Najee Harris behind Hurts. Ridley is to the right, and Jerry Jeudy and Devonta Smith are both to the left.
Jeudy motions to the right. Hurts fakes the handoff first to him and then to Harris. The motion with Jeudy sucks up the safety. Jalen hits the last step of his drop and immediately steps back up, uncorking the deep ball fans have hoping for. Ridley was left one-on-one against a true freshman corner, and he blows by him on a post route with ease. Hurts hits him in stride for the easy touchdown, and the Tide would never relinquish the lead.
4th and 5: Damien Harris, he of the 1,000 yards rushing last season, is third from the left on the line. Derek Kief, to Harris’s left, and Keaton Anderson, to Harris’s right, are both blocked. The Seminole closest to Harris doesn’t even chip him as he sprints down field. Then nobody in the backfield even looks at Harris. So the running back who clocked a 4.51 40 yard dash in the spring has an unopposed lane to the punter.
It ends exactly like you’d expect, with Harris blocking the punt. 5 star freshman phenom Dylan Moses is nearby and dives after, falling on it and securing it. Alabama has to settle for a field goal on the ensuing possession, but that leads to a kickoff.
Kickoff: Keith Gavin muffs the kickoff at the goalline, and he hastily picks the ball up and tries to get upfield. Tony Brown got down there quickly, though, and makes contact around the 6 or 7 yard line. Gavin fights forward as Brown starts dragging him down, and Dylan Moses appears. Moses gets his hand in and punches the ball loose before Gavin’s knee is down. Keith Holcombe dives on it for the recovery.
1st and 10: Alabama now has the ball on the 11 yard line. Damien Harris is to Hurts’s right and about a yard and a half back. Irv Smith, the H-back, motions right to left. Hurts hands off to Harris, who goes to the left, along with the offensive line. Smith comes back across the line to block the backside defensive end. Florida State blitzes one linebacker from the strongside and sends another up the middle. Harris makes a jump cut back to the right and hits the gigantic hole. Cotton and Womack clear the middle while Smith does a good job of getting low and driving the defensive end (and watch him finish this block). The two safeties come over and hit Harris, but he churns through it and waltzes into the endzone.
2 point conversion: Let’s throw this one in for good measure while we’re at it. Bama’s in shotgun with Damien Harris on Hurts’s right hip. Robert Foster and Cam Sims are wide left and both run routes to the left. Hurts takes the snap and rolls right on the short field.
Smith, Ridley, and Harris all run routes to the sideline; but the four Seminole defenders have the three targets smothered. Hurts turns upfield like he’s going to try and run it, as he’s done many times previously; and the redshirt senior linebacker Ro’Derrick Hoskins bites. Hurts doesn’t run it, though; and he steps to his right, buying time.
Smith has boxed the safety out and presents a nice target to Hurts, who rifles it while jumping backwards. Ridley managed to tiptoe at the sideline and stay in bounds while the corner on him went out. This was intended for Smith; but Ridley’s in position, too, and snags it.
1st and 10: Despite good starting field position, Alabama comes away with no points after Andy Pappanastos’s second missed field goal of the night. FSU takes over at their own 24 yard line.
Francois is in shotgun with a tight formation. Bama rushes just four, and Francois gets good protection from his line. He eventually decides on Auden Tate, the 6’5 receiver who beat Fitzpatrick for the Seminoles lone score earlier. Unfortunately for Francois, he stares down the left side of the field; Mack Wilson, who has dropped back into zone coverage, sees this and drifts that direction. He reads Francois and jumps the pass with a diving leap to make the interception.
I know I left out the first of the interceptions, but I’ve got a separate piece on Levi Wallace coming. It’s in there.