Happy Monday, everyone. The Tide cleared the first hurdle of the season and came out mostly unscathed in the injury department. We can’t prove that it was the Hoo Doo, but we also can’t prove that it wasn’t. As a reminder, send in your photo/video submissions to RBRhoodoo@gmail.com. If we don’t get submissions, the Hoo Doo will fade away as quickly as it returned.
Moving on, your game recaps:
“We need to be able to start fast and finish strong and we’ll certainly look into it,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “But I’m sure that when we look at the film it’s going to be because of a lack of execution, whether it’s fundamental footwork or however we blocked people or didn’t block people. And you know, as the game wore on, I thought we did a little better job of that.
“I think we started out a little bit maybe trying to run the ball and then we just decided, hey, the way they’re playing, we’re going to have to throw the ball on first down and when we started doing that, I think those guys made a lot of plays.”
As balky as the first quarter was, that’s the nature of football games. Holding penalties that turn 60 yards of positive offense into 30 yards of negatives have a big effect in the short run. So do turnovers that set the other team up in scoring position. Alabama survived those miscues, shook itself off and realized that it still had players like Diggs and Tua Tagovailoa and Jerry Jeudy stacked on top of young talent. That was way too much for Duke, no matter what the Blue Devils tried. But it’s been a long month for those players, and for Saban.
There are areas that need work. The offensive line didn’t get the sort of push in the middle that was expected. The running game can be more productive. These are usual first-game issues, except at a program where the first game is expected to immediately fast-forward to the last game and a relentless revenge tour.
-- LG Evan Neal: Got the start on the line before Alabama shuffled the line throughout the game. The 6-7, 360-pound lineman who played tackle in high school was flagged for holding on what would have been a 53-yard screen pass to Najee Harris on the first play of the second quarter.
-- NG D.J. Dale: Recorded a tackle for loss on the first defensive snap of the game. The replacement for Quinnen Williams made three total stops in his debut.
-- Alabama is known for using skill players on special teams. A few interesting ones Sunday: Jerry Jeudy was on the punt return team not as the deep man but on the line looking for the block. He was actually flagged for holding on a punt in the third quarter.
-- Duke’s Edgar Cerenord was ejected early in the second half but the seeds were planted early on. The starting defensive tackle slammed Alabama o-lineman Landon Dickerson on the fumble lost by Jerome Ford on the second drive. Dickerson got up with a shove and went helmet to helmet with the Blue Devil. Refs and teammates quickly stepped in, but it foreshadowed what came later.
“We were trying to find ways to run the ball better,” Cutcliffe said. “I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get a couple of things done more clearly with it. I thought it was really read, but it’s very difficult to scrimmage that against your own defense.
“So a little bit of our first look at it, and something that we’re going to continue to tinker with because we’ve got some really good backs, and we’re going to try to find a way to run the ball better.”
Thirteen true freshmen getting their feet wet in the very first game should play well on the recruiting trail. The triple option deal was kind of strange, honestly. That is not a scheme that you can practice for an hour a week and run it well. That usually results in the mesh fumbles without the big play payoffs. Jerry Jeudy coming off the edge in punt block sounds absolutely terrifying for opponents but please stay safe, Jerry.
Jalen Hurts had a fantastic opening night for Oklahoma.
Beloved by the Alabama fanbase, Hurts’ electrifying debut at Oklahoma on Sunday night was satisfying for Crimson Tide supporters and Saban, who watched the Texas native help the program win 26 games during his tenure as a starter including a national championship.
After showcasing his talents under Lincoln Riley’s tutelage with 508 yards of total offense and six touchdowns, Hurts barely cracked a smile when asked about his performance by ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the game.
To temper things just a bit, Houston’s defense was awful even by Big 12 standards last season, coming in at a putrid #106 according to what is now called SP+. Teams that play Oklahoma every year and have a smidge more talent, and I don’t use “smidge” sarcastically here because Big 12 defenses produce very little NFL talent, will probably do a little better. Still, he showed off a willingness to throw the ball through windows that he seemingly didn’t have during his sophomore campaign. Of course, he has always been an outstanding runner.
Last, some coach thought it might be smart to crack an Alabama LB commit with a typical high school WR. Warning: graphic images.
I don’t think I’d do that again.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.