The Last Word on No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Florida State

Monday morning means it’s time for the University of Alabama football team to turn the page on the last game and start looking forward to the next opponent.

But before moving on to the contest with Fresno State on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2), a little housekeeping is necessary regarding the Crimson Tide’s 24-7 victory over No. 3 Florida State. To start:

  • Nick Saban improved to 11-0 against his former assistant coaches.
  • Alabama is 11-0 in season openers under Saban, outscoring its opponents 435-127.
  • Saban notched his 19th win against a top-5 team in the AP Top 25, breaking a tie with Bobby Bowden for the most all-time.
  • It was the 51st time in the Saban era that Alabama played ranked No. 1. It also was the 16th consecutive game for the Tide at No. 1.
  • Saban improved to 14-1 in Atlanta. He’s obviously undefeated at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Player of the game: Damien Harris. The junior running back had the huge punt block, averaged 8.1 yards per rushing attempt and scored a touchdown on an 11-yard carry.

Play of the game: The punt block in the third quarter changed the momentum of the game. Florida State turned the ball over on three consecutive turnovers and had only 20 yards of total offense thereafter.

Stat of the game: Alabama’s average field position in the second half was at the Florida State 38-yard line.

10 things you might not have noticed 

1: Alabama used 51 players in the game, which is a lot when considering that the second-team offense never left the sideline. Among the freshmen, seven players contributed: running back Najee Harris, linebacker Dylan Moses, wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and Devonta Smith, and defensive backs Daniel Wright and Xavier McKinney. Wright might have had the hit of the game on special teams, and there was a package including all three freshman wide receivers. Junior-college transfer Isaiah Buggs was credited with a start in his debut at defensive end.

2: Although the statistics didn’t show it, sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts was more comfortable in the pocket than last year. He attempted only 18 passes, completing 10 for 96 yards, but he threw two away and had two more that he put the ball in the right spot. With the lead, Alabama attempted only seven passes in the second half and finished without a turnover.

3: When Nick Saban said after the game that Alabama didn’t have enough explosive plays, he wasn’t talking in generalities. The coach defines explosive plays as a run of 13 or more yards or a pass of 17 or more yards. The offense’s goal is nine explosive plays per game. It had six. However, the defense only yielded three. On a side note, senior linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, who was coming off a torn ACL, and junior defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne were two of Alabama’s best players Saturday.

4: Alabama didn’t have many yards after the catch (34 unofficially), although the offense was close to connecting on a number of other big plays. On one, junior running back Bo Scarbrough caught a third-down screen pass in space, only to have Florida State’s senior safety Ermon Lane bring him down with an impressive open-field tackle. On another, junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley had nothing by green in front of him, but Hurts couldn’t get the ball off because of the pass rush.

5: One of the most surprising stats: Hurts had 1 reception — that on a ball batted by Florida State safety Derwin James — which was more than any wide receiver not named Ridley had. Senior Robert Foster is best as a deep threat but he didn’t have a pass thrown his way, maybe because this might be the best secondary Alabama faces all season. Jeudy had his first reception nullified by a penalty, and Ruggs probably is still thinking about the ball thrown his way in the end zone.

6: Not including the six times he ran with the ball, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois took vicious hits from senior defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, Hamilton and senior defensive back Tony Brown. There were three other significant hits before junior safety Ronnie Harrison caught Francois from behind on the play that ended the quarterback’s season with a patella tendon injury to his left knee. Francois didn’t look comfortable after the hit from Hamilton, and Alabama brought a lot of pressure throughout the game.

7: Alabama had a lot of speed on the field for the punt block, but most of it was a decoy. With senior cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Levi Wallace on the gunners, Alabama lined up Najee Harris, Derek Kief and Damien Harris on the left side in order, from left to right. With a sort of bunch formation on the right side, the Seminoles defenders shifted on the snap to compensate, which was how Damien Harris got a clean shot at the block.

8: Converted wide receiver Trevon Diggs appeared to have two busted assignments on Florida State’s first possession, and he had trouble with stacked receivers on the second drive. Wallace subsequently was inserted at cornerback. The Seminoles completed only 2 passes with Wallace in coverage, for 15 and minus-1 yards, on 6 attempts, and another pass was intercepted.

9: Alabama’s 53-yard touchdown pass could have been a result of Florida State not having a clear idea of what the Crimson Tide offense would be like under offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Earlier in the game, Daboll called for a fake jet sweep to see how the Seminoles would react in the secondary. He called for another on the touchdown, with Ridley being defended by freshman Stanford Samuels, and Lane bit on Jeudy going in motion for the fake.

10: Florida State led for just 2 minutes and 13 seconds of game time.

The post The Last Word on No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Florida State appeared first on SEC Country.

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