Alabama went into Saturday’s game against Louisville in Orlando with a No. 1 national preseason ranking and a lot of questions. Here are four key ones and how they were answered in the opener:
1. How will UA handle its quarterback situation?
Tua Tagovailoa got the start, and the left-hander from Hawaii played up to the expectations built by his performance in last season’s national title game, throwing two touchdown passes and running for another score. He completed 12 of 16 attempts for 227 yards, with Jalen Hurts completing 5 of 9 for 70 yards. Neither threw an interception, but Tagovailoa was clearly more effective.
2. Will the secondary be ready?
Louisville was expected to test a defensive backfield overhauled after losing all of last year’s starters, but the Cardinals had limited success. Jawon Pass completed 20 of 39 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions – one returned for a touchdown. Louisville managed 252 yards through the air as UA’s new pass defenders held up well.
3. What about the special teams?
Alabama didn’t have a return for a touchdown last year, and already has one under new special teams coordinator Jeff Banks. Josh Jacobs returned a kickoff 77 yards for a score and Jaylen Waddle showed some spark in the punt return game. UA did miss an extra point and a field goal, and freshman Skyler DeLong averaged 36.3 yards on three punts, leaving room for improvement in both areas.
4. Are the Crimson Tide’s new coordinators game-ready?
Alabama seemed ready and able to adjust on the fly defensively in Tosh Lupoi’s first game calling the defense, although Louisville never seemed to push the tempo into warp speed to test substitutions. The Crimson Tide’s offensive game plan took advantage of its strengths and got the ball into the hands of playmakers in Mike Locksley’s debut calling the offense.
– Tommy Deas