At 63-7, the final score of Alabama’s win over Louisiana-Monroe made sense. They are just on different levels.
The route to the route may have differed a bit from the script.
Winning by 56 in this era is usually about passing game pyrotechnics – bombs away and here comes the blowout. But look at the numbers Saturday night and it wasn’t a pure offensive outburst at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young, in fact, had the fewest attempts since becoming a starter last fall. And the 13 completions, the least with four. As a team, it was the fewest completions and attempts since a win over Western Carolina in 2019 when the Tide went 12-for-15 a week after Tua Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury.
Like that November day, Saturday’s pace just didn’t require that heavy lifting of the passing game—not when three non-offensive touchdowns filled the gaps.
In all, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner had 236 passing yards, three touchdowns and his second game with two interceptions in Alabama. The Crimson Tide had three touchdowns on the board before Young threw his fourth pass.
A week after Saban questioned some of the offensive philosophy for the 20-19 win over Texas, he said it wasn’t fair to judge the passing game in full on Saturday. The fact that ULM played split protections deep in the back changed the dynamic, he said.
“They will be able to take away the downfield passing game,” said Saban. “So if you throw to the guys and take what the defense gives, somebody else runs the ball for 25 or 30 yards. So it’s not really fair to say what the downfield passing game was today.
Saban noted that Young missed one deep shot to Jermaine Burton with a knockdown.
“But I think he made good decisions by not trying to force the ball to the field when they’re playing very softly, trying to take those things away,” said Saban.
Both of Young’s interceptions came on balls tossed around the field, the first a true deep ball on second possession and then a more intermediate ball for Ja’Corey Brooks after halftime.
The game started with a few passes that stretched the defence. None of the outs had a catch of more than 25 yards in the first two games before Brooks caught a 29-yarder on the third snap. Traeshon Holden topped that on the next game, a 33-yard touchdown that gave Alabama the lead less than two minutes into the game.
Holden later said the offense felt more efficient on Saturday, while admitting it was somewhat frustrating when ULM played those deep safeties.
“We’ll just chop off,” Holden said, “and if they play, we’ll take a chance.”
With a 35-7 lead at halftime, Alabama didn’t do much in terms of running for the break. The top two running backs, Gibbs and Jase McClellan, had nine passes for 52 yards before third-teamer Roydell Williams came off the bench midway through the third quarter. Handoffs came his way on all five snaps that hold, the fifth being a hard 10-yard touchdown for the Hueytown product. His five-carry, 57-yard drive helped regain possession where Alabama wanted it after ULM had the ball at 12:08 of the second quarter.
“It was time for the start,” Williams said of his mindset after coming off the bench. “It’s time to go. The O-line did a fantastic job. The coaches upstairs conjured up a great plan and it was time to go.”
There were a few new combinations up front to help with that ground game that ended with 273 yards on 39 carries. True freshman Tyler Booker was given first team reps on duty after making the switch from tackle. The appearance of the New Haven, Connecticut product impressed Saban enough to say it competes with returning starters on duty, Emil Ekiyor and Kendall Randolph.
And with the passing game, Gibbs again finished as the top target with four catches, 65 yards and a touchdown in the second half. Holden was the only other wideout to have more than one flyout, adding three for 60 yards and his game-opening score. Tight end Cameron Latu caught the deepest ball of the day, a 38-yard pass on a drive that ended with freshman tight end Amari Niblack’s 15-yard touchdown on his first collegiate catch.
Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on facebook.
#interesting #day #Alabamas #offense