Alabama’s two quarterbacks have gotten their share of attention early this season. But opponents also have to take note of their array of targets.
Eight different Alabama players caught a pass in the Crimson Tide’s 57-7 win over Arkansas State on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed 13 of his 19 passes to seven players. Junior Jalen Hurts had seven completions to five players.
“It’s a lot of fun seeing all the other players make plays, too,” sophomore wide receiver Jerry Jeudy said. “It’s a good feeling when everybody is making plays and executing their job and doing good things that help the team.”
Tagovailoa started and played the first four series of the game. Hurts followed and played in the next three. Tagovailoa played seven total drives while Hurts played four. Redshirt freshman Mac Jones finished out the fourth quarter.
Alabama’s offensive options made themselves known early. Tagovailoa’s first four completions went to four different players, and he threw touchdown passes to Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith by the end of the first quarter. Hurts threw a touchdown pass to tight end Irv Smith. Jr in the second quarter, then another to Jeudy in the third.
“I think both guys did a really good job today,” coach Nick Saban said. “I think both guys played well today. We made some big plays in the passing game and were pretty efficient in terms of what we did.”
Jeudy tied for the team lead with four receptions, finishing with 87 yards and two scores. He has four touchdowns already this season.
“I feel like I’m doing pretty good,” he said. “Coach Locks (offensive coordinator Mike Locksley) is calling good plays, O-line is doing a good job of executing and the quarterback is doing a good job of executing as well.”
Hurts finished the day with 93 passing yards, moving over 5,000 passing yards for his career. That’s good for seventh in school history. His two touchdown passes also gave him 43 for his career, moving him into third place on the school’s all-time touchdown pass list. He trails only AJ McCarron (77) and John Parker Wilson (47).
Tagovailoa passed for 228 yards. The two quarterbacks combined to go 20 for 29 for 321 yards and six touchdowns. They also added 52 rushing yards.
“It’s tough (for defenses),” Irv Smith Jr. said. “At Alabama, we pride ourselves on running the football but to be able to distribute the ball like we’re doing, everybody is touching it, they don’t know who’s going to get it, it’s very tough to stop.”
The passing game was helped by 278 rushing yards. Nearly every offensive marker showed positive signs for the Crimson Tide. The balance between run and pass helped UA convert 8 of 11 third downs through the third quarter.
Alabama has now scored 108 points in its first two games. It’s the first time since 1925 that the Crimson Tide has scored more than 50 points in the first two games of the season.
If Alabama can keep the kind of balance it’s found early this season, it won’t get any easier for defenses.
“There’s no telling,” Irv Smith Jr. said. “It’s only been two games, and you guys have seen we’re very explosive and putting up a lot of points. If we keep going down the season, keep getting better, gelling more, there’s no telling what we’ll be able to do.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.