For the first 19:58 of Saturday's Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, Duke apparently beat Alabama, 0-0. Flawlessness has never seemed so effective or been such an effective strategy at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, even when rarely practiced by the home football team.
It will not continue. It couldn't go on. The universe would be fine and back on its tracks. National Team # 2 should beat Duke in any game that does not include a round ball and a circular goal.
That Bama beat Duke 42-3 was hardly the problem on Saturday. That the Crimson Tide scored enough real points to win was not a revelation. But the fact that they were slowly moving towards a new season, that style points were lacking in the first few minutes, was at least an early moment of the bullet.
"I thought we were starting to get a little slow in terms of our ability to execute, but not because of lack of effort or attitude," Alabama coach Nick Saban said without hesitation. As he added, "As the game went on, we played better and better."
Recognize some of the old standards in Alabama for what became an easy win.
Too Much Defense ̵
And too many Toa. You don't win the Heisman Trophy in the first game of the season – especially against Duke – but one guesses Tua Tagovailoa could give his chances of a serious paper cut with a gentle performance. No chance of that. He completed 26 of 31 passes for 336 yards and four touchdown passes.
He has a fan under Duke David Cutcliffe's coach. "He is amazing," he told Tagovailoa. "He is correct. He is ready. Releasing it is so compact, simple and fast. He can throw on the run. "This checks a lot of boxes.
Credit Duke, at least, for not taking to heart its 34-point status and not threatening the Red Sea with Alabama fans surrounding it.
To begin the game, Duke runs out of the end of Atlanta's football court, passing through an inflatable leather helmet, smoke and fire replica dramatically erupting from special effects devices suggesting that Kiss, not Blue Devils, was traveling on stage .
And then the real weird things started to happen.
A quick summary of Alabama's first three possessions:
Three and beyond.
I'm hitting my back with Jerome Ford. The Blue Devils took the ball down the Alabama line 26 yards and moved all the way to 7th when a bold decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 resulted in a direct hit to the purple abbey.
Missed attempt to score 49 yards.
In short, the Tide came out as ordinary as grit. Worse than that, instant grits.
Familiar with his loss to Clemson last year at the College Football Playoff Championship, which made three consecutive quarters of Alabama's offense. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was not the kind of fresh start that would be framed and hung on his office wall.
Bama's fourth possession hardly began with a promise, a retention penalty, nullifying a 54-yard catch and run by Najee Harris, one of two Alabama refugees whose stop for some small-team transgression lasted one quarter.
Turning this into an awkward penalty, the Tide escaped with an 80-meter drive culminated in skilfully fake play and a 27-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Miller Forristall on Cartersville, the tight end. The Big Tide Casting ended at 10:02 of the second quarter.
There, Alabama pulled this bad football out of its system, like a cat coughing a leather ball.
At this point all the talk of the Duke will cease.
Forget this dizziness from the first quarter, nothing more than a hiccup in an otherwise moving sermon. It just got a lot better for Bama. Atlanta's 13th consecutive win was safely moved to the swing.
And those looking for longer problems, more lasting signs of slipping in Alabama, will have to swallow hard and admit that "Bama is still" Bama.
Well, there was one thing, something like an Alabama-specific flaw: The tide had kicking issues – two missed field goal attempts. Something to keep in mind if anyone approaches. To first-grader Will Reichard, Saban said, “Will did great. He kicked a lot of touchbacks, indicating the strength of his feet. Both of his field goals he hit really hit well.
Otherwise, let's look at Alabama's first three second-half possessions:
Nine plays, a 65-yard touchdown, completed by a 1-yard dash from Tagovailo to Major Tennyson.
After a blow to the Duke – the most serious mistake – Tagavailo turned so fast, passing 28 yards in three plays, marking an 8-yard pass to DeVonta Smith.
Then, after coming out at 90 yards with little resistance, another passing touchdown for Tagovailoa, 21 yards to Jerry Judy. With all four sensors switching to four different receivers, there was no shortage of playmakers in Tuscaloosa.
"We were able to operate and get the ball to our players around the perimeter, and that was the difference in the game."
Tagavailo gained a significant number in just three quarters. On his last visit to Mercedes-Benz, Tagavailo was beaten and raised for backup Jalen Herts, who saved the tide in the SEC Championship game. This, however, was a substitute for mercy, as Mc Jones had become a Tide.
For the winner of the game, Kickoff goes the glory and the leather helmet trophy. Saban tried it during the victory ceremony, and yes, even that was appropriate.
"Good victory for us," he said.
"I don't think one game recovers anything. I think you have to do it over time and I think you have to do it as a team, "he said afterwards.
Once a coach, he added," Obviously there are many things we can improve. ”
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