Postgame analysis of Alabama's 49-7 win over Southern Mississippi:
THREE THINGS WORTH TALKING ABOUT
Earning his keep
Henry Ruggs III opened scoring for Alabama for the second game this season.
It was a slant route underneath. Since one could see the play unfold a mile away, that slant route seems easy to defend, and one would think it would be key in any of Alabama opponent's scouting report.
Yet, there they were, three minutes into the game with a 7-0 lead, thanks to Ruggs. Then, fewer than six minutes later, he bolted long for a 74-yard pass for a TD. During that play, before he even turned back to catch the ball — because Tua Tagovailoa threw it just a bit short — it was a given that it was going to be a TD since Ruggs was already at least 5 yards ahead of his defender.
The previous game in which Ruggs opened the scoring for Alabama was against New Mexico State. He had two TDs in that game.
If Ruggs, with great speed and hands, doesn't enter the NFL draft this season, it'll be a crying shame. If he doesn't catch another pass this season, he should still make himself available for the NFL cash, er, draft. In fact, until that happens, Ruggs, along with others on the team like him, shouldn't have a financial care in this world. One can only hope the Crimson Tide parishioners are seeing to that. To boot, Ruggs also had two tackles in the game, one solo and one assist. Earning!
Rush to judgment
Last week, Southern Mississippi held Troy to 24 rushing yards. And, while the Golden Eagles entered the game 37th in the nation with their stingy defense, allowing an average of only 104.67 rushing yards, wise people never really doubted what the Tide, though struggling with its run game, would do against USM.
Alabama finished with 176 rushing yards, the best game total thus far this season. But, before the celebrations begin regarding Alabama's break-out rushing game. Consider this: It was Southern Mississippi. Circle back in three weeks when Bama is in College Station.
Defense bright spot
Alabama's Jared Mayden, a senior defensive back from Sachse, Texas, led all tacklers with eight for the game, including five solo and three assists. So while there's plenty of chatter about the inexperience on defense, especially since its defensive leader Dylan Moses went down, Mayden, at 6-foot-0 and 205 pounds, is a bright spot in the secondary.
He had five tackles against South Carolina, three against New Mexico State and eight tackles against Duke. He's a good leader by example.
Rushing offense — A-: The running game is moving in the right direction. Najee Harris ran with purpose, showing glimpses of the needed punch Alabama needs to balance out its offense.
Rushing defense — A-: The young corps is coming into its own quickly. A couple plays they were out of position, but the success far overshadowed the early mental mistakes.
Passing offense — A+: It’s amazing to write this but Tua Tagovailoa might have looked better this week than last when he had a career day. He had more touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four). And Henry Ruggs III looks to be his favorite target. Why not, given Ruggs’ speed?
Passing defense — A-: Southern Mississippi’s Jack Abraham came into the game completing 71 percent of his passes. He didn’t look nearly that good under duress from Alabama’s young front seven.
Special teams — A: Not much to report, given the offense was so dominant, but a first-quarter injury to freshman kicker Will Reichard could be concerning moving forward.
Coaching — A: Nick Saban’s team dominated in every facet, as expected, and the Crimson Tide started looking like the No. 2 team in the country after a few weeks of questions.
Overall — A: Somehow, Alabama didn’t let the 11 a.m. start affect them.