ATLANTA- No. 1 Alabama’s offense ran into roadblocks early and often in its opening game of the season. The Crimson Tide were unable to move the ball efficiently in its 24-7 win over No. 3 Florida State, finishing with just 269 yards of offense and just 96 yards passing.
Head coach Nick Saban believes the lack of production in the passing game was one of the reasons the offense struggled overall.
“We have to do a better job of executing, especially when it comes to the passing game,” Saban said. “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.”
A chunk of the Crimson Tide’s passing yards came from a 53-yard touchdown from Jalen Hurts to Calvin Ridley in the second quarter. Alabama froze the Florida State secondary with play action, Ridley got separation and Hurts delivered a perfect pass. It was one of few plays were things ran smoothly for the Crimson Tide.
Hurts finished 10 for 18 with 96 yards passing and a touchdown, while Ridley had seven catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.
“We definitely have to improve,” Ridley said. “We left a lot of plays out there and we just have to go back to practice and work on those plays and deep throws and just get better. We left a lot out there.”
The Crimson Tide struggled to sustain drives throughout the game. Thankfully for them, big plays from the defense gave them the ball in Florida State territory multiple times. After a blocked punt by running back Damien Harris gave the offense the ball on the six yard line, the Crimson Tide were unable to reach the end zone and came away with three points.
Alabama’s offense would get another gift, however. Dylan Moses forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to give the offense the ball on the 11 yard line. The next play, Damien Harris took it into the end zone for a score to go up 21-7 with 1:41 left in the third.
“I felt like we kind of got the ball rolling in the second half,” Harris said. “We started to execute better and as the game went on, I feel like we kind of wore them down and then we were able to execute when we wanted to.”
Harris was Alabama’s main source of production on the ground. An early 34-yard run gave him a big chunk of his 73 yards on nine carries. Bo Scarbrough struggled to find running room, gaining only 40 yards on 15 carries. Freshman Najee Harris- a five star recruit making his debut- saw little action. He carried the ball three times for five yards.
Even though Alabama’s running game struggled outside of Harris, Saban believes the team can put together a lethal backfield this season.
“Damien did an outstanding job,” Saban said. “He’s practiced really well, had a good camp. The combination of he and Bo (Scarbrough), maybe we’ll get (Josh) Jacobs back, Najee Harris, I think all those guys can contribute at that position. But Damien had a really good night tonight, made some big runs for us.”
Florida State’s defensive line seemed to give Alabama’s offensive line fits all night. The Seminoles were able to get to Hurts for most of the night while also plugging up running lanes. Florida State had the speed to compete with Alabama’s offense.
“They were everything we expected them to be,” offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman said. “They were tough. They were physical, fast and long. They were a really good defense.”
Alabama’s offense will get the chance to correct its mistakes when the team takes on Fresno State on Sept. 9. Even with the struggles, Alabama’s offense did enough to secure an opening weekend victory.
“We just played for four quarters tonight,” Ridley said. “We just finished.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports