For the seventh time since 2000, Alabama scored 60 or more points in a game on Saturday, and all of those instances came in the Nick Saban era. Four of those seven have come since the start of the 2018 season, the most recent instance being the 66-3 win over Western Carolina.
Tweet length review of the game
It’s games like these, while nothing of significance for 2019 is happening in the second half, that make me want to build a scheduling model just to create a SEC scheduling template that doesn’t require this.
Did you know?
– The 25 turnovers the UA defense has forced this season, after four interceptions and a fumble recovery against Western Carolina, is more than the 2018 and 2017 defenses forced in their entire seasons (21 and 24). Two Saban Alabama teams (2016 and 2012) forced 29; 2009 forced 31.
– Najee Harris needs just 58 rushing yards to hit 1,000 for the season. Alabama did not have a 1,000-yard rusher last season, breaking a three-year streak. He would need to get up to 1,255 to crack the top 10 in school history.
– Harris has also scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in each of his last three games. His receiving touchdown against Western Carolina put him in elite company among receiving running backs, extending the school record he already owns for single-season receiving touchdowns by a running back.
– Jaylen Waddle now has 474 punt return yards this season, which ranks fourth in school history. The school record was set by Javier Arenas with 650 in 2008, which is second in SEC history. The SEC and NCAA record are held by Lee Nalley with 791 punt return yards for Vanderbilt in 1948.
– It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, it’s just uncanny: of UA’s 11 games this year, the defense has ended seven of them with exactly seven tackles for a loss.
– UA’s final two possessions (6 minutes, 43 seconds, and 6 minutes, 12 seconds) lasted longer than its first nine possessions combined. 15 minutes and 22 seconds of UA’s 27 minutes and 51 seconds of possession (55.1 percent) came in the final three possessions.
What about this game will be remembered in January?
The first game of the post-Tua era, I guess?
Quoting Nick Saban
– “Competitors always want to challenge themselves, competitors always want to prove something, and I think our guys did a good job of that.”
– On Tua Tagovailoa’s presence on the sideline: “When a guy has a great spirit and he’s a leader, you don’t have to be a player that goes out there and plays to affect other people. I think his spirit, his leadership, his standard of excellence, the example he sets is something that, even though he’s unable to play now, people have a tremendous amount of respect for.”
Quoting the Crimson Tide
– Waddle on punt returning: “I just try to be confident back there, try to take chances when I can. Be confident when you’re fielding the ball, that’s how I look at it.”
– Mac Jones: “I think it was good. Not a lot changes when you’re the starting quarterback. When you’re in that role, you just try to step in and do your job to the best of your ability. It’s really great when your teammates rally around you like they did today and all week. I know that I’m a new face in there, but everything seemed to go pretty well this week.”
– Waddle: “Me and Mac, when I first got here, he was my quarterback. We was always chilling together. I think that comes in handy.”
Quoting the opponent
– Western Carolina coach Mark Speir: “I thought the first half, our defense, the biggest positive I guess was we felt we did a nice job against stopping the run. I think they had 59 yards at halftime rushing, so for us that was huge. We just couldn’t match their skill set with our secondary versus their wide receivers. They’re a top team in America. They’ve got an outstanding group of wide outs. That’s what we were worried about coming in, and they certainly proved to be, offensively.”
– Speir: “I wish them the best of luck in their quest for the playoffs. We will always say we’ll come to Alabama. It’s a first-class organization, and Coach Saban does a phenomenal job, and is a class act.”
– Quarterback Tyrie Adams: “The biggest thing was that we had a hard time getting hands down, had some tipoffs up front. Miscommunication between myself and the receivers, you know just doing stuff like that. I mean against any team you can’t do that and expect to even be in the game, but, I think my guys played hard. They fought hard. Proud of the boys for finishing the game, and I am excited to see what the future holds for this university.”
One man’s very arbitrary top four players of the game, in no particular order
– Xavier McKinney: Three tackles, all of them solo, one for a loss, a forced fumble and two interceptions. Forcing three turnovers in a game is good for a team, but for one player to do it is particularly spectacular. It becomes increasingly obvious each week that the two best safeties in America were in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9: McKinney and LSU’s Grant Delpit.
Xavier McKinney is an All-American and all takes to the contrary are bad.
— Brett Hudson (@Brett_Hudson) November 23, 2019
– Jared Mayden: Four tackles and two interceptions. A heart-warming Bryant-Denny Stadium farewell for a senior that deserved something like it. The player who had no interceptions before this season now has four, leading the team.
– Waddle: Three catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, two punt returns for 67 yards. With all the skill talent leaving both UA and the sport for the 2020 NFL Draft, Waddle is stating a case to be the college football’s most explosive player in 2020.
– DeVonta Smith: Four catches for 94 yards, two touchdowns. NFL franchises are noticing Smith more than they used to, and if he wants to, he can make that fact very lucrative in six months or so.
Against the spread
UA covered the 58-point spread and hit the over (61 1/2) on its own, needing no help from Western Carolina to get over the total. Six of UA’s 11 games have gone over the total.
The Iron Bowl, a game that has heavier College Football Playoff implications than it did before Oregon’s loss to Arizona State.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson