Sunday, September 1, 2019

Schaible: Another season opener, same Crimson Tide staying miles ahead of the competition

Photo Credit: John Bazemore- Associated Press

By: Brian Schaible
Twitter: @SBNationReports

For 20 minutes on Saturday, Duke was up to the task against Alabama.

They forced an early three and out, recovered a fumble and rushed Alabama’s kicker into sailing a field goal attempt wide.

That was as good as it got for Duke as Alabama throttled its way to a 42-3 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It certainly was a remarkable turnaround from a sluggish bunch who missed on opportunities early on, to a pinpoint accurate and more dominant team in the second half.

It was another exceptional game for Tua Tagovailoa as the junior ended with 336 yards through the air and four touchdown passes.

“Tua’s doing what Tua does. He’s making plays and doing what he needs to do to be the best player he can be. That’s what Tua does,” said Crimson Tide wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

For Jeudy, this was his first 10-catch game as a member of the Crimson Tide.

“It’s a great feeling. I couldn’t do it without my teammates and coaching staff. It’s a great team and we executed plays. I did a good job running my routes to get open,” Jeudy said.

Among the standouts on offense included the seldom used Miller Forristall. After missing significant time due to knee and foot injuries earlier in his career, the redshirt junior was a force in the blocking game and caught two passes including a 27-yard touchdown.

“We talked about it all week and had put it in. I knew there was a chance of it getting called. We were trying to score a touchdown and the protection was pretty good and it worked out well,” said Forristall on his second quarter touchdown.

It was especially important for Forristall to shine in Atlanta.

“It’s so cool coming back to my hometown, having friends and family here and catching a touchdown, the first touchdown of our season. It felt great,” Forristall said.

Alabama’s defense was impressive from start to finish. However, perhaps no play was more significant than a fourth down stop deep in Alabama territory.

With Duke on the seven yard line in a scoreless game, head coach David Cutcliffe opted to go for a fourth and one instead of the chip shot field goal.

The Crimson Tide completely blew up the play at the line of scrimmage.

“It was very big. Most stops like that set the tone for the defense. I felt like it was a good spark for our defense and the momentum shifted,” said Alabama defensive back Trevon Diggs.

Despite the impressive performance, Diggs knows there’s always room to improve especially with the impeccable Saban watching from the sidelines.

“It was a good start for us, but we have a long way to go for what we are trying to accomplish. I feel like it’s a very good start and we have a good team coming,” Diggs said.

Alabama hosts New Mexico State next Saturday before traveling to Columbia, SC, on Sept. 14 to take on the South Carolina.

If Saturday’s performance was any indicator of what is to come, then opponents will be looking in every direction in fear and paranoia.