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Initial Impressions: Cajuns dispatched in Tuscaloosa

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Alabama 56, Louisiana-Lafayette 14

NCAA Football: UL Lafayette at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that followed the script, Alabama jumped all over the overmatched Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette early and often, put it on cruise control, and had some ugly moments when the second unit entered the game but ultimately coasted to a 56-14 victory. The Tide predictably failed to cover the highest point spread ever between two FBS teams.

The offense, and particularly Tua Tagovailoa, was spectacular again. Tagovailoa threw eight passes and completed them all for 128 yards, an absurd 16 yards per attempt and passer rating of 316.2 that will further bolster his numbers, which are already tops in the nation. More importantly, the Tide scored a touchdown on each of his possessions. Jalen Hurts came into the game and played well in his own right. Henry Ruggs got to take his turn as the target of the week, finishing with 116 yards on five catches.

The breakout star of the game, however, was Jaylen Waddle. Waddle took a punt back to the house and busted a 95-yard touchdown on a simple slant route from Mac Jones, when he made one little head fake and then broke a safety’s ankles as he turned on the afterburners. His pure speed jumps off the screen, though Saban suggested in his press conference that Waddle’s blocking may be a concern.

The running game was a bit sluggish at 5.8 yards per carry, but losing both tackles in the first half certainly didn’t help. Fortunately, it seems that both are fine and could have reentered the game if needed. In fact, Saban said that the team didn’t suffer any serious injuries in the game.

Defensively, the first unit was great. The Cajuns had a mere 59 yards of offense in the first half of the game. The secondary was stellar again across the board, but Patrick Surtain II and Xavier McKinney stood out in particular. Surtain looks nothing like a freshman out there, his ability to handle single coverage befitting a player with his natural ability and coaching from a Hall of Fame father who played the same position. McKinney had a beautiful interception running down the sideline, seemingly running the route in place of the receiver. For the most part the run game was stymied in the first half as well.

Unfortunately, the second team defense was downright ugly. Markail Benton and Jared Mayden each blew a tackle on the Cajuns’ best play of the game, a 40-yard run down to the Alabama one-yard line. The unit surrendered 158 yards on 17 plays and two touchdowns on the last two drives, the vast majority of it coming on the ground. Saban isn’t kidding when he talks about depth issues on that side.

The special teams were excellent other than the field goal kicking. The Tide never punted in the game, which is always good. Waddle had his TD return and was excellent in that role all day, and Derek Kief blocked a punt in the first quarter to set up the Tide’s second score. Joseph Bulovas was perfect on extra points but missed both very short field goal attempts he was afforded. I don’t know.

The goals in these games are to stay healthy and end it early, and the Tide managed to do both. They now move on to the next victim in Fayetteville.

Roll Tide.