Off the Marq: Alabama left Florida State with quite a hangover

Alabama football-Nick Saban-Florida State football-Jimbo Fisher-Jalen
            Hurts-Damien Harris-Da'Ron Payne

ATLANTA — You ever woken up with a hangover so bad that you immediately swore off drinking? Yeah, me either. Wink.

There’s no time for hangovers when you have to cover the greatest season-opening college football game ever.

That’s what some were billing No. 1 Alabama football vs. No. 3 Florida State as. Problem is, someone forgot to tell Florida State’s offense that it was a 60-minute contest.

The Seminoles defense balled out, and deserve a lot of respect for how they stifled Alabama’s offensive attack.

However, the Seminoles offense wanted no parts of Alabama’s defense as the game wore on.

Alabama football made a statement with its 24-7 win over Florida State.

RELATED: Message sent: Alabama still kings of college football

Welcome to the club, Raekwon Davis

Alabama football continued its tradition of having tough players who get shot, but still manage to play in a football game a week later. Raekwon Davis joined an elite club that Brandon Deaderick started in 2009. Davis didn’t play a ton of snaps, but he made an impact.

His sack on Deondre Francois had to be one of the most-tweeted moments from the game.

Alabama’s defense is still Alabama’s defense

If you like watching Alabama’s defense, you also probably enjoy watching boa constrictors slowly smoother their prey.

Florida State’s offense briefly tried to escape its fate, but we all know destiny is predetermined.

That fate came by way of a Minkah Fitzpatrick field goal block. Or Mack Wilson intercepting a pass. Or any one of Alabama’s defenders constantly pounding Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois.

We spent all offseason talking about the talent Alabama football lost from last year, but we sometimes overlooked the talented players waiting their turns.

Florida State scored 7 points and gained 185 yards of offense in the opening half. Whatever “Nick fit” or “ass-chewing” Nick Saban gave at halftime obviously worked. The Seminoles gained 65 yards of offense and scored zero points in the second half.

Alabama’s front seven remains “skrong.”

Speaking of Alabama’s defense …

When did Da’Ron Payne become a defensive back? There were multiple times when Payne ran down an offensive player in the open field to make a tackle.

Florida State running back Cam Akers is probably still sore from all 308 pounds of Payne jumping on his back Saturday night.

Alabama football is known for recruiting freaks, but Payne may be the freakiest of them all. He’s always had super-human strength, but his latest upgrade appears to include elite sideline-to-sideline running ability.

Shaun Dion Hamilton is back

We can’t talk about Alabama’s defense without a shoutout to Shaun Dion Hamilton. Hamilton was one of the best players on the field Saturday, flexing his run-stopping ability.

He did get his ankles taken by Akers on one play, but outside of that, Hamilton didn’t show any signs of being slowed by his knee injury from last season. Hamilton led Alabama’s defense with 8 total tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack. He nearly had an interception as well. With Rashaan Evans sidelined for an unknown time due to a groin injury, Hamilton’s leadership for inexperienced guys like Mack Wilson and Keith Holcombe will be even more important in the coming weeks.

One of the adjustments of the game …

… was Alabama’s defensive staff inserting Levi Wallace in at cornerback. Wallace, who earned a scholarship last year, had been battling Trevon Diggs for playing time this fall, but it was Diggs who earned the start. Wallace is just an incredibly solid player who always seems to be in the right position. His third quarter interception of Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois was one of many key plays for the Crimson Tide’s defense.

“Those two guys have been competing at that position all fall camp,” Saban said of Wallace and Diggs. “We busted a couple coverages. We were really lucky early in the game. We cut people loose two or three times, not just Trevon, we just made some mental errors, and Levi has got a lot of experience. (Wallace has) been in the system for a long time, played very well when he had the opportunity to play. Very smart player.”

Don’t overreact to the passing game

Florida State’s defensive front is one of the best in the country, and Alabama likely won’t face another one that good until LSU in November.

That said, Jalen Hurts was running for his life at times and Florida State deserves a lot of credit for that. Florida State’s front seven was able to get pressure, and defensive back blitzes off the edge routinely forced Hurts to get rid of the ball quicker than Alabama would have liked. Alabama should get some time to clean up some of its issues in pass protection over the next few weeks.

“I thought Jalen did a good job. He did what we asked him to do. I think a lot of the things that could have been really good plays for Jalen didn’t turn out so well because we didn’t protect very well. Now, he will tell you that sometimes he’s responsible for that because he can redirect the protection, but there were other times where we made mental errors up front and didn’t block them, and we had people open but couldn’t get them the ball. So the whole deal on offense, we have to do a better job of executing, especially when it comes to the passing game. They’re a pretty good front. We could complain about running the ball better, but we probably ran it good enough — if we could have had the kind of balance that we wanted in the game and been able to protect so that we could make some plays and make some throws down the field. But I thought Jalen did a good job in the game.” — Saban on Alabama’s passing game

Damien Harris deserves a little more respect

Harris reminds me a lot of T.J. Yeldon in that he has spent much of his career being overshadowed by teammates at his position despite all of his production.

Harris earned the start on Saturday and was Alabama’s top offensive weapon along with Calvin Ridley.

Harris rushed for 73 yards and 1 touchdown while averaging 8.1 yards per carry. The jump cut on his touchdown run was a thing of beauty, and he showed some power breaking through two tackles for the score. Enjoy him now Alabama fans because Harris is likely gone after this season.

Oh, and he also blocked a punt. Think about that: the starting running back on the No. 1 team in the nation was out there putting his body on the line to block a punt. Props to Harris.

The post Off the Marq: Alabama left Florida State with quite a hangover appeared first on SEC Country.

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