The top-ranked Alabama football team had some questions going into Saturday’s home opener against Fresno State. Here are four of them, and how they were answered:
1. Can Alabama get the running game going?
Depends on what you mean: Alabama got some big runs from quarterback Jalen Hurts (some of them designed, some on scrambles), but the traditional running game was a little slower coming. UA wore down the Bulldogs and began to run downhill in the second half, finishing with 305 yards on the ground, but wasn’t overpowering.
2. Is the placekicking game going to improve?
This wasn’t a game that provided any answers. Andy Pappanastos was perfect on five extra points and a couple of short field goals that were little more than point-after kicks, but whether UA has a reliable answer when it comes to longer, more pressure-filled kicks is a question for another day.
3. How will Alabama handle its linebacker injury situation?
Fresno State had limited success against the Crimson Tide defense, especially in the short passing game, but how much of that was due to UA playing without four linebackers who were injured in the season opener against Florida State is impossible to say. Keith Holcombe and Jamey Mosley were first-time starters, and others got into the fray as the game progressed.
4. Will we see Tua Tagovailoa?
Alabama’s true freshman backup quarterback made his collegiate debut, directing a series in the second quarter. The left-hander from Hawaii completed 2 of 3 pass attempts for 15 yards on that drive but also took a sack. He returned in the fourth quarter to throw his first touchdown pass, a 16-harder to Henry Ruggs III, and finished 6 of 9 for 64 yards.