The top-ranked Alabama football team closed out its home schedule Saturday against Mercer. Here are four key questions the Crimson Tide answered:
1. Will Alabama be looking ahead?
There was no evidence that UA was peeking down the schedule toward next week’s game against Auburn, much less to a possible SEC Championship Game or College Football Playoff appearance. Alabama looked sharp and ready from the start, with only a few lapses. The Crimson Tide took it to Mercer and never really let up.
2. Can Mercer hang with the Crimson Tide?
Auburn led just 7-3 at halftime on the way to a 24-10 victory over the Bears in mid-September. Alabama was up by 21 points less than half a minute into the second quarter, and put Mercer away long before halftime. Even Alabama’s backups kept at it to make sure that the visitors never came close to gaining any momentum.
3. How much will Tua Tagovailoa play?
Alabama’s backup quarterback was on the field before the midway point of the second quarter and got ample time on the field, including some work with the starters. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 85 yards. While the yardage wasn’t overwhelming, he threw three touchdown passes in an efficient performance.
4. Can Alabama avoid major injuries?
Alabama held out safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher, who are nursing injuries sustained in recent games. A few guys made trips to the sideline medical tent, but none of those were serious, head coach Nick Saban said after the game. UA was able to get its starters to the sideline early.