Postgame analysis of Alabama's home win over Ole Miss:
THREE THINGS WORTH TALKING ABOUT
Tide offense rolls
Ahen Alabama touches the ball on their opening drive, more than likely there's opening bets on how fast the Tide will score. Over-unders are collected between friends, co-workers, family and beyond: "How fast do you think they’ll score? I bet you it’ll be Jeudy. Maybe Ruggs."
All speculation — speculation that quickly becomes fact.
After grinding through a 42-3 win over Duke (yes, that’s an oxymoron by nature, but this high-octane Alabama took only a 14-3 lead into the half), the Tide has scored on every single opening drive with an average time of possession of roughly 1:04.
Ole Miss’ Landshark defense was no different than the last three opponents, as Alabama found itself in the end zone Saturday afternoon with barely a minute gone off the clock (Tua Tagovailoa 74-yard strike to DeVonta Smith — four plays, 90 yards, 1:10 T.O.P).
Smith loses his mind
We all have that tune or jingle that plasters to our mind — you know, like the gorilla glue we promise we won’t get stuck to our hands when we choose to use it without gloves — after one listen.
Well, Saturday afternoon that jingle was "Tua to Smith, Tua to Smith, Tua to Smith."
Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith had a day, to say the least. It was a career day at that, as he hauled in 11 catches for 274 yards and five touchdowns. This effort etched Smith in the Alabama record books, replacing Amari Cooper (224 yards vs. Tennessee, 2014) as the single game receiving yardage record holder.
His personal career marks in receiving were all established before the half, tallying 221 yards on eight catches and four touchdown receptions.
The junior often gets lost in the shadow that is the Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III duo, but after Ruggs suffered a hip pointer and amid the attention Jeudy commands from opposing defenses, Smith was able to get open early and often.
A week ago, Smith was caught playing rock, paper, scissors with Jeudy to decide who would get the ball on the ensuing play. He played scissors to Jeudy’s rock and lost.
But today, it looks like Smith played paper.
First half stuntin'
A majority of Alabama’s games are over by the first half (led Ole Miss 38-10 at the half Saturday).
In the spirit of that let’s take a look at the man who is most responsible for the Tide outscoring opponents 142-30 in the first two quarters this season.
Tagovailoa has thrown for 1,728 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year. But what’s more impressive is that of those yards: He’s racked up 1,255 in the first halves of each game combined with 15 touchdowns on 76-of-103 passing.
At the half on Saturday? Tagovailoa was 17-for-24 with 301 yards (the most he’s had in a half all year) and four touchdowns. No wonder he blew by AJ McCarron's record for most touchdowns responsible for in Alabama history on Saturday.
In less than two years, Tagovailoa is responsible for putting the ball in the end zone, via air, ground and in between, 86 times.
Isn’t this passing offense for Alabama fun? Think about the depth for the Crimson Tide at wide receiver for a second. It just might have three first-round draft picks in Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith. Oh, and the guy passing to them, Tua Tagovailoa, could be the No. 1 pick. Not that we want to talk about that right now. Instead, let’s just enjoy the beauty that is Alabama’s air attack for a few more months.
Rushing offense — B: Running the ball has been an afterthought of late for Alabama. Makes sense, given Tagovailoa and his WR corps. But lack of repetitions could hurt the Tide when it matters most (See Auburn and LSU).
Rushing defense — B-: Run-first Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee showed promise in his first career start. He also showed Alabama is getting caught guessing too much on where the play is going.
Passing offense — A+++: New week, new star for Alabama in the passing attack. Smith — 274 yards receiving and five touchdowns — it was his week. Tagovailoa? It’s his week every week. The man is Alabama’s best quarterback ever. No debate.
Passing defense — A-: The promise Plumlee showed in his first start on the ground wasn’t there in the air, while safety Xavier McKinney showed solid tackling ability.
Special teams — C+: A muffed punt by Jaylen Waddle can’t be forgotten, despite his solid returns to follow. Joseph Bulovas, place-kicking for injured Will Reichard, missed a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter. Will the kicking hiccups ever be fixed for Alabama?
Coaching — A: Here's hoping Nick Saban is as satisfied as most fans are with Alabama’s performance, but we suspect he noticed the mistakes more than the records broken.
Overall — A-: Par for the course for the Crimson Tide. The talent on offense is so much when they play lesser teams, it’s just a matter of when they will separate themselves in the game. And Ole Miss is clearly the lesser.