ATLANTA — The million dollar question for the Alabama football team going into Saturday night’s heavyweight tilt was, “How would new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s offense look?”
The answer: It’s still too soon to tell, but against the fast, aggressive defense of Florida State, it was inconsistent.
That’s not an appeasing answer to fans, who were hoping to define what the offense would be after the first game of the season, but, to be fair, going against the Florida State defense was probably never going to yield too many clues.
Put simply, the Seminoles’ defense was fast around the corners, stout up the middle and if an Alabama ball carrier got on the perimeter, there wasn’t much room to work.
When Jalen Hurts gets a corner on nearly every defense he plays, he racks up yardage. Against FSU, he could never really turn that corner.
“They were everything we expected them to be,” senior center Bradley Bozeman said. “They were tough, physical, fast, long, athletic. They’re a good defense.
“We did some good things. We did some bad things. There’s a lot that we need to correct. It’s a good starting point for us, I think, a good baseline, and we’ll go from here.”
For those hoping to see a rejuvenated passing attack, yeah, this wasn’t the game for you.
With just less than 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Hurts had 96 yards passing. That total didn’t change because Alabama held the lead and took the air out of the ball.
For those hoping to assess blame to the sophomore signal-caller, note that the pass protection wasn’t vintage. In fact, at times it was porous.
Hurts didn’t point fingers. Instead he tipped his hat to a great defense.
“I give a lot of respect to them,” Hurts said. “They played a heck of a game. “We just have to improve from tonight.”
Daboll’s most curious play call of the game came on second down inside the Florida State 5 after a blocked punt gave UA golden field position and a chance to pull away. After a Hurts 4-yard run on first down, a pass play was called. With the field already shrunk due to the ball being at the 4, consider the fact that Hurts hadn’t been comfortable in the pocket most of the night. Hurts left the pocket and was immediately sacked for a loss.
That play killed a golden opportunity to give the Crimson Tide a two-score lead. Instead Alabama led by just six points.
UA totaled 269 yards of total offense, 173 of it on the ground. Much will be made of the lack of a passing attack, but again, consider the context that the Seminoles’ pass rush and secondary make it difficult to be efficient through the air.
Damien Harris averaged 8.1 yards per carry, and his 11-yard touchdown run put Alabama ahead by two scores and essentially salted away the game.
“We started out kind of slow,” Harris said. “I felt we kind of got the ball rolling in the second half. As the game went on, we felt we kind of wore them down, and we were able to execute the way we wanted to.”
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