Happy Monday, everyone. Michael Casagrande and Aaron Suttles have a couple of Mississippi State wrapups for you .
— The 17 first-quarter points were a season-high for an Alabama team that’s outscoring opponents 73-21 in first quarters.
— Freshman Brian Branch was around the ball quite often. His seven tackles were second behind only fellow newcomer Malachi Moore’s eight.
— Will Reichard is 8-for-8 kicking field goals this year after drilling both against MSU. There’s no hesitation or lack of confidence in the way he kicks it, either. Just a solid kicker with good mechanics.
Since the Bulldogs (1-4) opened the season with a shocking 44-34 win against defending national champion LSU, they have scored a total of 30 points in four games. That’s why trying to gauge how much progress Alabama’s defense has made since its embarrassing performance at Ole Miss is tricky. It’s not nothing, but how much is it, exactly?
You can judge effort, and the Alabama defenders gave a lot of it Saturday. They tackled well, flew to the ball to gang tackle and were aggressive, as if they were a confident group instead of one that has been second-guessed for much of the season.
Confidence is so important. We have seen it from Mac Jones all season, and Will Reichard. The defense played with very little early in the season, but looked quite sure of itself on Saturday. How much of that was a function of a simplified scheme vs. a bad offense vs. jelling as the season goes along remains to be seen.
Lane Kiffin took note of a patented Saban ass-chewing.
Yes you have, Lane. Yes you have.
You may have heard that Tua Tagovailoa started a NFL game yesterday. He got his first win, but the passing line wasn’t pretty.
Tagovailoa was a winner in his first NFL start on Sunday, even though the former Alabama All-American’s stats weren’t eye-popping. In a 28-17 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Tagovailoa completed 12-of-22 passes for 93 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
“I don’t think I played to the standard that this offense is capable of,” Tagovailoa said. “There were certain plays where I could have stepped up and made the right throw, made the right decision. But I’ve heard it many times from the guys in the locker room: It’s good that we still came out with the win. And aside from that, thank God we got a good defense.”
In fairness to Tua, there was a long stretch in the first half where he didn’t get to play at all. The Rams had a long drive end in a fumble return for a touchdown, then allowed a punt return for a touchdown, then fumbled again and saw it returned to the one yard line. By the half, Miami was up 28-10 and went into clock mode in the second half.
Alabama players showed out across the league yesterday, headlined by Damien Harris staking his claim to a bellcow role in New England.
· Damien Harris started at running back for the Patriots. Harris ran for 102 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. Harris’ 22-yard run with 3:03 left in the third quarter accounted for his first NFL touchdown. Although he was listed as a limited participant in practice over the past week because of an ankle injury, Harris recorded his second 100-yard game in four outings this season.
The Patriots suck and that’s weird, though any team that willingly hires not one, but two, Auburn QBs deserves that fate. Still, Damien is going to get his chance to make a name for himself in the second half of the season. His pro career has thus far followed the script of his college career, when he struggled a bit to get his sea legs in year one before exploding in year two. Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry also went over the century mark, but that’s old hat for them by now. As the headline notes, Minkah Fitzpatrick broke up what would have been the game winning TD pass very late to preserve the Steelers’ place atop the AFC North as the only remaining unbeaten in the NFL.
Last, Trevon Diggs did this.
The Dallas Cowboys defense is a dumpster fire, but Diggs has been steady. That is is first career pick, and it was spectacular.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.