New Mexico State at No. 2 Alabama
When: 3 p.m., Saturday
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM, 102.9 FM
By Edwin Stanton
It took Alabama a few series to get warmed up last week but when it did it was lights out. Jerry Jeudy already looks better this season, which is scary, than in 2018. Najee Harris provided a boost last week after sitting out the first quarter and looked ready to take over as the No. 1 running back.
The freshmen starters, DJ Dale, Christian Harris and Shane Lee, looked like seasoned veterans last week. Alabama gave up just 204 yards to Duke, including 97 passing yards. New Mexico State gave up 58 points and 618 yards to Washington State.
Will Reichard missed his first two field goal attempts (49, 48 yards) but the good news for UA is both kicks had plenty of distance and were not far off the mark. He was perfect on PATs and even had a decent couple of punts. The Crimson Tide should be OK in this area in 2019.
Everything seemed to run smoothly for Alabama’s newly assembled coaching staff last week (except for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on head coach Nick Saban). Doug Martin is in his seventh season with the Aggies, trying to turn around a program that won three games in 2018.
It’s the home opener for the Crimson Tide. It’s won the last 17 home openers and is riding a 26-game home win streak. There should be a packed stadium today, at least for a half, before the heat and a lot of Alabama points causes a mass exodus.
Alabama 56, New Mexico State 3
The only positive New Mexico State has for this game is the $1.7 million paycheck it will leave Tuscaloosa with. Other than that, it’s going to be a Crimson Tide score-fest. The only thing Alabama will have to overcome is the heat.
New Mexico State 3
This game reminds me of last year’s game against The Citadel, who embarrassed the Tide with a tie game at the half after taking $500,000 just to show up. NMSU will pocket $1.7 million for this game but look for Bama to score early and often.
New Mexico State 0
The scorching temperatures at Bryant-Denny Stadium will be the toughest opponent the Crimson Tide will face. Look for the running game to break loose as the Aggies had one of the worst rushing defenses in the country a year ago and gave up 7.5 yards a carry last week to Washington State.
New Mexico State 7
New Mexico State is 129th out of 130 FBS teams in yards per play allowed after being thrashed by Washington State last week. They’ll be 130th after this one, but at least they’ll leave Tuscaloosa with $1.7 million in the pocket — over 6 percent of the total athletics budget, according to the USA Today database.
New Mexico State 3
The “winner” will probably be the 97-degree temperature but that will prove to be yet another Alabama advantage in a game that’s already stacked with Alabama advantages. The other number is around 80, the number of UA players likely to see action.
New Mexico State 10
New Mexico’s spread offense will pick up a few big gains if quarterback Josh Adkins stays upright, but the Aggies won’t have much success slowing down Alabama. Najee Harris set a career high in the home opener against Arkansas State last year and I expect him to have a similar type of game on Saturday.
New Mexico State 3
New Mexico State’s defense was one of the worst in the FBS last season, ranking 126 out of 130 teams. While the starters may only play in the first half, it will be all Alabama needs.
New Mexico State 6
How much Alabama improves from the first to second week will be hard to gauge against New Mexico State. The Aggies have struggled recently and their lopsided loss to Washington State probably meant it was an even tougher week of practice for the Crimson Tide.
New Mexico State 3
With temperatures expected to reach almost 100 degrees, the Crimson Tide could end up battling the heat more than the opponent. The New Mexico State defense struggled last weekend against Washington State, so expect Tua and most starters to be resting on the bench well before the fourth quarter begins.
Players to watch
By Carey Reeder
Position: Wide Receiver
Key Stat: Recorded one catch for five yards in Alabama 42-3 win over Duke
Buzz: As the No. 4-ranked prospect in New Jersey last year, Metchie came into an already loaded Alabama wide receiving corps. Metchie was the most valuable player in the Alabama spring game and Nick Saban believes extra depth at the wide receiver position this year will go a long way. Metchie should expect increased playing time against New Mexico State.
Key Stat: Completed 4 of 5 passes for 31 yards last week against Duke
Buzz: After redshirting last season, Jones stepped into the role of backup quarterback this season. Jones has seen playing time in 14 games as both a quarterback and holder. With a projected point spread of 55 points and Saban looking to get the reserves more playing time, Jones should expect to be under center Saturday.
Key Stat: Made seven tackles on special teams last season to lead the team
Buzz: Playing mostly as a special teams ace last season, Kaho is positioned to get more playing time at linebacker this season. Following the injury to Dylan Moses, Kaho moved up to third on the depth chart. Like most reserves for Alabama, Kaho will be expecting more repetitions against New Mexico State.
New Mexico State
Positon: Running Back
Key Stat: Rushed for 533 yards last season and scored seven touchdowns
Buzz: Huntley is a part of a dual running back look New Mexico State will present to Alabama on Saturday. Huntley’s experience could cause a young Crimson Tide defense some problems when paired with backfield mate Christian Gibson. Huntley rushed for 57 yards on nine carries last week against No. 23 Washington State.
Key Stat: Placed 18 of 74 punts down inside the 20-yard line last season
Buzz: Theisler will be expecting another busy weekend after hitting six punts against Washington State. The Aggies offense was ranked 95 out of 130 FBS teams last season and following their 58-7 lose to the Cougars, it doesn’t look like New Mexico State will be rolling out an extremely dynamic offense this season.
Position: Running Back
Key Stat: Led the Aggies in rushing last season with 590 yards and added six touchdowns
Buzz: The other member of the New Mexico State backfield duo, Gibson hopes to continue to improve on his breakout year last season. A career-high 127 rushing yards against Liberty last season proved Gibson can give defenses a tough time and could apply pressure to the Alabama front seven on Saturday.