Postgame analysis of No. 1 Alabama's 51-14 win over Louisville:
THREE THINGS WORTH TALK ABOUT
Forget DeVonta Smith, last year’s title game hero. Or, Jerry Jeudy or “Mr. Touchdown” Henry Ruggs III. Meet Jaylen Waddle. Waddle, the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder, is fast and decisive with his cutting ability. He looks like a human joystick.
He caught three passes for 66 yards and added 59 yards on three twisting, turning punt returns. Alabama can just add another piece to its incredible wealth of talent at the position. Don’t take your eyes off Waddle … you might miss something good.
Hurts out of work
Barring injury, Jalen Hurts won’t start another game for Alabama, but the junior quarterback still had two great years. He boasted a 26-2 record as a starter, but it was clear in his two first-half possessions Saturday there was little production or energy compared to the high-powered offense under Tua Tagovailoa.
And, that’s OK. He will remain one of the nation’s top backup quarterbacks and, if he plays in fewer than four games, he will retain a year of eligibility when he likely transfers from Alabama after graduating in December. Alabama fans should give Hurts a tip of the hound’s tooth cap and a gracious: “Roll Tide!”
Louisville senior guard Lukayus McNeil said prior to Saturday night that he wasn’t worried about Alabama’s defensive front. Cardinals receiver Dez Fitzpatrick said every receiver on his team can honestly beat every Alabama defensive back.
And, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said at Louisville luncheon: “I believe we’re gonna go beat ’em. And we will go beat ’em.”
That’s not the way it turned out. Alabama dominated in every phase of the game and let its play on the field do all the talking as the Tide appears primed to begin its repeat of the national championship with a setback Louisville won't soon forget.
Rushing offense — A: Damien Harris’ pursuit of his third straight 1,000-yard season got off on right foot against the Cardinals. Maybe this year, he can get some more carries.
Rushing defense — A: Alabama is used to allowing only two yards per attempt. The Cardinals couldn’t even reach that.
Passing offense — A: So much for wondering about who will be the QB? Tua Tagovailoa let loose from the opening drive with precision and accuracy and didn’t let up.
Passing defense — A: Inexperience in the Tide’s secondary didn’t rear its head as much as Louisville had hoped it would.
Special teams — A-: Josh Jacobs returned a kick-off for a touchdown. Jaylen Waddle added 80 punt return yards. But, the kicking game wasn’t perfect. Austin Jones missed an extra point.
Coaching — A: Alabama looked to be in mid-season form in the first half with some sloppy play late, but the defending national champions picked up where it left off.
Overall — A: Crimson Tide favored by 24 points against boastful team? Ho, hum, dominating 37-point victory where finding Alabama’s problem areas will take Saban’s microscope.