Three things we learned: Alabama 52, Texas A&M 24

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

Alabama used a 21-point surge in the second quarter to beat Texas A&M 52-24, improving to 2-0.

Here’s what we learned about the Crimson Tide in the win.

John Metchie III is a real threat

There was reason for optimism in UA’s up-and-coming wide receivers as it had to replace Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. John Metchie III had been an impressive practice field player since the day he stepped on campus, and Slade Bolden made some plays as a Wildcat quarterback in 2019.

Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III (8) scores a touchdown against Texas A&M defensive back Jaylon Jones (17) at Bryant Denny Stadium win Saturday October 3, 2020.
Photo by Crimson Tide Photos

There was optimism, but there was no proof. Against Texas A&M, Metchie provided the proof.

In torching the Aggies for 181 yards and two touchdowns on five catches, Metchie showed his practice field prowess will carry over to the real thing.

Having that additional wide receiver threat allows UA to create mismatches with ease, especially given its consistent use of tight ends keeping teams from its dime packages.

Untapped potential in UA defense 

The final statistics — 450 yards, but needing 77 plays to do so, thus 5.8 yards per play — fall in the middle ground. They are not the dominant defense that Alabama fans expect regardless of roster circumstances, but they are not the underwhelming performances delivered at times by last year’s unit.

Its most recent showing offered examples of what the unit could be. In the final three quarters it held the Aggies to 3.8 yards per carry. Safety Daniel Wright returned an interception for a touchdown. Only two of the Aggies’ four red zone trips ended in a touchdown, one of those touchdowns coming out of a timeout in the final eight minutes.

It also allowed nine passing plays of 15 yards or more, two of them scoring touchdowns and two more moving the chains on third downs of 12 or more yards to go. It pressed Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond frequently but never brought him down for a sack.

The resulting 5.8 yards per play is not going to shoot UA into the top five of the national defensive rankings, but it does leave a clear path to working its way there.

Mac Jones is the right guy

Mac Jones was efficient: he completed 20 of his 27 passes, tossing four touchdowns with just one interception on a deflected pass. Jones was also explosive: seven of his 20 completions went for 20 yards or more, including completions of 35, 63, 78 and 87 yards.

UA may not always need this much from Jones, given its experience on the offensive line and talent at running back, but since UA ran 28 times, it needed Jones to produce, and he did.

He often found open receivers who created bigger plays for him, but he was not afraid to test small windows: his touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith in the second quarter was over an Aggie defender at the back of the end zone, and threw a well-placed jump ball to Najee Harris for a 16-yard gain that setup a go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter.

UA is likely to face more challenging secondaries than it has in its first two games; as long as Jones remains willing to take calculated risks and converts when he does, he will be at the helm of an offense more than good enough to accomplish UA’s goal of a national championship.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson