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Initial Impressions from the Southern Miss game

Bryce Young and Jameson Williams stole the show.

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Alabama Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

What a night it was for Jameson Williams.

Williams returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a TD, then later added an 88 yard kickoff return TD and a 81 yard TD reception. Astonishingly, he became the first Alabama player in the program’s storied history to take two kickoffs to the house in the same game. He also became the first Alabama player to score a TD of at least 80 yards from scrimmage in the same game that he returned a kickoff for a score. On this night, the speedster who transferred in from Ohio State had to be happy with his decision. We will need more of his exploits as we get into SEC play.

Not to be outdone, Bryce Young put on a historic performance of his own. We’ve talked aplenty about Tua Tagovailoa owning the all time NCAA career passer rating record and Mac Jones owning the NCAA single season passer rating mark. Well, neither of those guys produced a single game rating of 276.3 as Bryce did last night. He completed a cool 91% of his passes and five passing TDs, with only one incompletion and one interception on a well thrown ball that caromed off Williams’ chest into the arms of a defender. Had that pass been completed, Young’s passer rating would have been right at 300.

The running game was strong as well. Brian Robinson took the night off with a nagging injury, leaving Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams to combine for 207 yards on 23 carries. Most of the yards were gained on the edges, as the interior of the offensive line was still a bit uneven. Most of the issues boil down to communication and synergy between center Darrian Dalcourt and the guards on stunts and combo blocks. This has been a work in progress all season, and the line did look better than it did against Mercer. They will need to keep improving in that area as the season wears on.

The defense did what it was supposed to do against an opponent of this caliber. Southern Miss didn’t score until Alabama had 35 on the board, and their first five possessions netted 50 yards on 21 snaps. The little bit of success that the Eagles found came from tight end Grayson Gunter or QB Ty Keyes running around. It’s always tough to glean much from games like this one, but in general everyone seemed to do their jobs effectively. CB Josh Jobe was called for an absurd pass interference near the goal line that led to the second touchdown for the Eagles. He appeared to play the ball perfectly, and it was on third down. Perhaps it was something of a pity call.

Will Anderson was active all night, probably for longer than he should have been. Still, he is developing into the monster that he was billed to be. As mentioned the tight end still found success, but much of that has to do with the threat of a running QB that puts the linebackers in conflict.

Will Reichard made all of his extra points and didn’t get a field goal try. James Burnip didn’t have a great night punting the ball, as both of his efforts were short and lacked hang time. JoJo Earle got a long look at punt returner and caused some anxiety with regard to catching the ball. For all of his wonderful achievements on the night, Williams also badly misplayed one kickoff and put the offense in a hole at the three yard line. Fortunately, they were able to go 97 yards for a score.

Jalen Milroe came into the game late and threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Javon Baker. Paul Tyson had hit Baker for 35 yards earlier in the drive. Trey Sanders got a little bit of run late. You have to wonder if he’s completely healthy considering the lack of action he’s getting.

In general, this was a successful night. The Tide got an easy win, covered the spread, and looked solid in doing so. The crowd seemed pretty loud and there were no major injuries.

Next up, of course, is Ole Miss. That should be a fun one.

Roll Tide.