Running back Najee Harris had to travel less than a yard to score the Crimson Tide’s sole rushing touchdown Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium, and his team still won by 50 points on the dot.
The majority of Alabama’s points came from the passing game. Quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jalens Hurts threw six touchdown passes and, with a little help from Mac Jones, 321 yards. The other 278 offensive yards were on the ground.
“We had a good balance on offense,” UA coach Nick Saban said after the 57-7 win over Arkansas State.
But he later elaborated.
“We’re a little inconsistent at times in the running game,” Saban said. “I think we didn’t really finish blocks up front times like we’d like to all the time, so that’s something we definitely need to improve on so we can continue to have the balance when we play against probably better front guys that what we’ve seen in the last two weeks.”
That short-and-sweet touchdown was only possible after Harris started off the drive with a 23-yard run. Three plays later, he had a 19-yarder and a first down to keep the offense on the field. He was then swapped out for fellow running back Damien Harris, who didn’t even get the ball on the next play. Hurts kept it and ran for 3 yards.
Facing third down and goal, Najee Harris came back in and scored. He went around the left side and practically walked the ball into the end zone.
“Najee made some really good runs and had some big-play opportunities and did a really good job,” Saban said. “But I think all three guys played well.”
Four technically: Najee Harris, Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs and Brian Robinson Jr. They combined for 226 rushing yards on 35 carries. Najee Harris had a game-high 13 carries for 137 yards and the touchdown. He averaged 10.4 yards per carry.
“As receivers, we take pride in doing more than jut catching the ball,” wide receiver Henry Ruggs III said. “We try to establish ourselves as blockers, too. Najee, he had some great runs and makes us look good out on the perimeter blocking.”
At least someone was confident about blocking. Left tackle Jonah Williams said he’ll need to watch film to see where the offensive line’s inconsistencies were, especially when it comes to finishing blocks since Saban noted it.
“We don’t know where the running backs can go,” Williams said. “A lot of times if there’s a cutback or something like that, it’s hard to hang onto that block. I mean, that’s just something we can drill, work on in practice and keep refining our technique.”
Last season, Alabama finished with 36 rushing touchdowns, good for second in the SEC and 12th in the nation. There just happened to be more passing yards in Saturday’s game than rushing – and against Louisville in the season opener.
“I think any time you win by 50 points and get 600 yards of offense you can’t get really pissed about it,” Williams said. “That’s kind of our thing going forward: We want to really control the line of scrimmage, and I think we can do a better job of that.”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.