COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of Alabama football team has now amassed 500 yards or more of total offense in 15 of its last 18 games dating back to the start of last season, including all three this season. Alabama had a total of 571 yards in Saturday’s 47-23 win at South Carolina.
Tweet length review of the game
The whole, “Make them beat us through the air,” thing isn’t going to work on Alabama this year, folks. Someone down the road is going to have to try something else.
Did you know?
– Do with this information what you will: Alabama’s offensive numbers were not dissimilar to Mike Leach teams. Washington State’s three games this year: 507 passing yards to 111 rushing against New Mexico State (passing yards 82 percent of total yards), 481 to 113 against Northern Colorado (80.9 percent), 440 to 49 against Houston (89.9 percent). Alabama against South Carolina: 495 passing yards to 76 rushing yards, 86.6 percent of total yards through the air.
– There were three total punts in this game, thanks to Alabama scoring constantly and six combined fourth-down attempts, 2-for-2 from Alabama and 2-for-4 from South Carolina. For context, the North Carolina-Wake Forest game on Friday night had 10 punts — from North Carolina. Then Wake Forest punted eight times.
– South Carolina running back Tavien Feaster has played one SEC football game in his entire career but has now faced Alabama in all four years of his career. The Clemson transfer saw Alabama in each of the last three seasons in the College Football Playoff before hosting them in his lone season as a Gamecock. His last shot at UA was his best: 10 carries for 33 yards and two catches for 17 yards. He didn’t notch in any carries in 2016, got four carries for 10 yards in 2017 and three for 11 yards (plus two catches for 29 yards) last year in the national championship game.
– The game had a total of 56 first downs; 40 of them were passing.
– The 324 passing yards from Ryan Hilinski were the most by an SEC East quarterback against Alabama in the Nick Saban era. Jake Fromm’s 301 yards from last year’s SEC Championship Game was previously the only time a SEC East quarterback had gone for over 300 on a Nick Saban Alabama defense.
What about this game will be remembered in January?
I’m torn between Najee Harris’ truck-and-hurdle sequence in his second touchdown or the general excellence of Tua Tagovailoa in throwing for 444 yards and five touchdowns.
Quoting Nick Saban
– “I think it was our goal to come in here and play a complete game for 60 minutes. I thought we did that offensively; I thought we ran out of gas little bit on defense, but we played 86 plays of defense, which is a lot, especially in conditions like this.”
– “I thought (the offensive line) did a good job. The quarterback had protection for the most part: I know we got sacked there early in the game a time or two, but one time the back missed the ‘backer plug. I thought when we did run the ball, we ran it effectively.”
Quoting the Crimson Tide
– Safety Xavier McKinney: “I feel like we have a defense full of leaders. Every guy on that defense plays hard, everybody has a say-so. We just play together. We’re more like a family. I’m not the dad of the family. We have 11 dads out there. We have a lot of hard-working guys on the field.”
– Tagovailoa on the wide receivers: “I think every one of them deserves the same amount of attention as Jerry (Jeudy) is getting. The thing that was frustrating for Jerry today was guys were double-teaming him and grabbing him. You can see how he gets everyone else open. It’s not just one guy, and all those guys will tell you that.”
– Tagovailoa on the offensive line: “It was a little shaky in the beginning but they picked it up, had to communicate and get everything settled.”
Quoting the opponent
– Will Muschamp on Hilinski: “Just from a gutsy standpoint, he took some shots in the pocket there from some really good players. Going up against a really good secondary, he made some tight throws and had some balls dropped. We had opportunities to keep the chains moving, he hung in there and did a nice job. There’s some communication things we still need to get ironed out, but that’s not just on him, that’s on our entire offensive staff.”
– Muschamp: “It’s not just about going for it on fourth down because we want to. It’s about the situation in the game, it’s about field position, a certain punt look, or a punt safe look or a punt block look we get in the game, and we’ve got someone in the box saying, ‘It’s there.’ It’s all a calculated risk on what we want to do.”
– Wide receiver Bryan Edwards: “I don’t believe in moral victories. We lost today. I am a competitor and I want to win so we lost and that is what it is.”
One man’s very arbitrary top four players of the game, in no particular order.
– Wide receiver DeVonta Smith: 8 catches, 136 yards, two touchdowns. You can do things to set up pretty much anyone in this receiving corps, and you can just let the offense flow and watch any of them go off. Smith turned into a big target as South Carolina put all eyes on Jeudy and he did not disappoint.
– Tagovailoa: 28-36, 444 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions. A completion percentage of nearly 80 alongside 12.3 yards per attempt is unbelievable. A lot of that is yards after the catch, yes, but there is a little something to be said for consistency in accuracy that allows those receivers to go to work.
– Hilinski: 36-57, 324 yards, two touchdowns, one interception. It’s hard to not be impressed with the freshman. South Carolina has been here before with Jake Bentley and the fan base was ultimately a little disappointed with little discernible development; Hilisnki’s going to be fun to watch in that regard, because the physical talent is there.
– McKinney: Nine tackles, one for a loss and one interception. It was tough to choose between him and Anfernee Jennings (six tackles, two for a loss, one sack), but I went with McKinney (again, I know) because South Carolina went all in on the short passing game early on. It forces defensive backs to close on breaks quick and make quick reads to contain those short passes, and McKinney does that as well as anybody in the SEC.
Against the spread
South Carolina’s touchdown with 11 seconds left did get the Gamecocks under the 26 1/2-point spread. For the second week in a row, Alabama nearly hit an over/under total by itself, scoring 47 in a game with an over/under of 59 1/2. South Carolina’s 23 points easily got it over that number.
A home game against Southern Miss, the much discussed 11 a.m. kickoff game. The Golden Eagles got an impressive 47-42 win at Troy last week, including a wild fourth quarter with a combined 42 points.