There were plenty of positives at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. There were big plays by the Alabama offense. The defense shut down visiting New Mexico State for most of the time that mattered. The Crimson Tide kicking game was solid. And absolutely no one was mauled by a polar bear.
There might have been a mauling or two in Nick Saban’s press conference after No. 2 Alabama finished a 62-10 romp over New Mexico State as the Crimson Tide started fast but did not close strong against the Aggies.
“We challenged our players to go out and see if we could be a dominant team,” Saban said. “There were times in the game where we did that. We started out with big plays offensively. But at some point we got sloppy and once we put in the (second) team, we got really sloppy.
“We didn’t move the ball on offense, we didn’t take the air out and we didn’t get them stopped defensively. We did get to play a lot of players, but we have a lot to clean up.
“I was pleased with the way that the 1’s (first team) played.”
The Crimson Tide came out quickly, scoring on the first play from scrimmage as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw a short flip to Henry Ruggs III for a 75-yard score (the play was officially ruled a lateral and rush.) Tagovailoa did have three touchdown passes and a scoring run in the half. He exited the game after playing one series in the third quarter, completing 16 of 25 passes for 227 yards and no interceptions.
The scoring passes included two to Jerry Jeudy covering 21 and 23 yards and a 10-yarder to Ruggs. Freshman kicker Will Reichard added a 48-yard field goal at the end of the first half to the vocal approval of the sunburned crowd.
Jeudy caught a third touchdown pass from backup Mac Jones in the third quarter. Jeudy’s three touchdown receptions in a single game tied a UA school record held by many. Alabama also added a short touchdown run by Najee Harris and an explosive 74-yard score by freshman running back Keilan Robinson. Reichard also added a 49-yard field goal in the second half.
New Mexico State did score the first touchdown allowed by UA in the short 2019 season (a 4-yard pass reception by Jason Huntley. The Crimson Tide, playing reserves in the fourth quarter, gained just eight yards on offense and NMSU tacked on a field goal for the final score.
Alabama (2-0) will open Southeastern Conference play next Saturday at South Carolina.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.