Alabama Played Disciplined for 60 Minutes In Dominant Win
The Alabama Crimson Tide performed the way fans expected it would two weeks ago against Mercer: disciplined. Saturday evening was the baseline for anyone wondering how Alabama has beaten 100 straight unranked opponents.
While Southern Miss got its shots in offensively to get on the board twice, Alabama showed efficiency throughout the ball game in all three phases.
"That's one of the things we've been harping on, maintaining intensity throughout the game," head coach Nick Saban said after the game. "I thought we had good energy and I thought we played with good intensity throughout the game. We made a lot of great plays in the game."
There's no truer test of discipline than in special teams and in penalties. Alabama still suffered seven penalties, but they weren't as debilitating. Two came on punt returns though, which erased much of JoJo Earle's production.
Still, the kickoff return team did its job in paving lanes for Jameson Williams both on the opening kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown and early in the fourth quarter on an 83-yard score, which put Williams in the record books in just his fourth game with the Crimson Tide.
"My strategy every time I get the ball, I'm like, 'I'm trying to crib. I'm trying to go to the crib,'" Williams said after the game. "No matter what play, what catch, I'm trying to go to the crib."
Offensively, Alabama put up 608 total yards, over half of which came from the right arm of Bryce Young. Young played within the framework of the offense throughout the evening but didn't hold back on opportunities to make plays either. He finished the night 20-22 for 313 yards with five touchdowns and his first career interception.
"We always pride ourselves in being an explosive offense, that's something that we strive to make our identity," Young said. "We just want to execute the plays that are called. For the most part, I think we did a relatively good job. We'll see what we can learn from."
In the rushing attack, the Crimson Tide were without the services of Brian Robinson. In his place, Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams split 24 touches evenly with the former racking up 106 total yards with a receiving score while the latter had 110 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown.
Alabama's offensive line performed the best it has all season, with respect to the competition. Two sacks were allowed on the night, but for the most part, Young was free of pressure and scrambled to find playmaking opportunities.
"Obviously there's always things that you want to improve on, things we need to work on," Saban said. "But this is something I'd like to build on."
Defensively, a few struggles were still apparent, though the Golden Eagles were held to just 213 total yards. All told, Alabama snoozed on a handful of plays but overall were efficient in getting off the field on third downs (5-15) and taking advantage of the mistakes the Southern Miss. offense imposed on itself.
"I don't think the defense played with great poise the last 40 minutes of the game last week. I think guys got frustrated. I think they let the momentum of the game get to them a bit," Saban said. "I think the thing we did today was we kept our poise, we kept playing the next play, we competed well in the game.
"We played better. I still think there are some third-down situations that we need to clean up and get better at."
Will Anderson had yet another tremendous effort, with all three of his tackles going for a loss including a first-quarter sack, with a QB hit as an added bonus.
In preparation for next week's crucial matchup with Ole Miss, the fans inside Bryant-Denny Stadium held strong through most of the fourth quarter, participating at every turn and helping to force penalties against the Golden Eagles.
"I was really excited about the students staying for the game and cheering our players," Saban said. "I know our players really appreciate that, I appreciate it. It sets up a tremendous atmosphere and environment."
Alabama hosts the Ole Miss Rebels next Saturday at 2:30. The game will air on CBS and can be heard anywhere via the Tide 100.9 App.