No. 1-ranked Alabama hosted The Citadel on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Here are four key questions that were answered:
1. Will Tua Tagovailoa start?
Nick Saban said all week that Alabama’s quarterback would start after leaving the Mississippi State game the previous weekend after a shot to the knee on a sack late in the third quarter. Not only did he start, Tagovailoa passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of play and ran for another score. Backup Jalen Hurts also made his first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury against Tennessee.
2. How long will the starters play?
This one didn’t go according to script. Playing a Football Championship Subdivision team, and an average one at that, UA was tied at the half and didn’t lift its starters until the final period. The backups got their chances in the final 15 minutes, but it took a strong third quarter to put the game out of reach.
3. Who will emerge as a player to watch for the future?
Alabama’s starters were on the field for much of the day, so the younger players didn’t get as much chance to shine as one might have expected. Sophomore running back Najee Harris had a very good afternoon in a limited role with 41 yards on just four carries. Sophomore defensive lineman LaBryan Ray made seven tackles, including one in the backfield.
4. Can Alabama handle the option?
Back in 2011, the Crimson Tide faced a wishbone-style, triple-option offense run by Georgia Southern and gave up 300 rushing yards. This wasn’t quite like that, but The Citadel did have some success sustaining drives and eating up clock. The Bulldogs gained 275 yards, all on the ground and scored 17 points.