Bama Dominates In First Game
Alabama was plenty flashy enough on offense, tough enough on defense, and perhaps better than expected on special teams in defeating San Jose State, 48-3, Saturday night. It was the opening game for both teams, number one ranked Bama and the unranked Spartans.
The Tide rolled up 591 yards of offense -- 257 rushing and 334 passing -- while holding the Spartans to 175 yards.
Bama quarterbacks were sharp, Greg McElroy completing 13 of 15 passes for 218 yards and one touchdown and A.J. McCarron completing 9-15 for 116 yards and a touchdown. Neither was intercepted. The only sack against the Tide was one credited when McElroy scrambled to the sideline.
With 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram on the mend following Tuesday knee surgery, Trent Richardson started the game at tailback and had 10 carries for 58 yards. Eddie Lacy, who came in as the second tailback, got off to a terrible start, losing a fumble at the goalline, but rebounded to have 13 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Julio Jones was spectacular in brief playing time, making six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Alabama will be home against next week when the Crimson Tide hosts Penn State, ranked 14th in the nation in the Coaches Poll and 19th in the Associated Press rankings. Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. CDT with national television coverage by ESPN.
Alabama never trailed Saturday night. Greg McElroy drove the Tide 71 yards in eight plays with Trent Richardson going in for the score from four yards out. Jeremy Shelley kicked the extra point. McElroy completed passes to Julio Jones on the first three plays of the game and was four-for-four in the drive for 50 yards. Jones had a 13-yard pick-up on an end-around to set up the score.
San Jose State didn't roll over. The Spartans got a long run from Brandon Rutley to the Tide 47, and a tacked-on facemask penalty moved the Spartans to the Bama 32. The drive stalled at the Alabama 13, where Brandon Rutley kicked a 31-yard field goal.
Alabama had a kicking game error after the Spartans' field goal, a personal foul penalty that wiped out part of a nice Richardson kickoff return and forced the Tide to start from its 23. No problem.
On the fifth play of the drive McElroy completed his sixth consecutive pass to start the game, a 48-yard gem to Marquis Maze that gave Alabama a 14-3 lead.
Robert Lester's and 15-yard runback set Alabama up at the Spartans' 19-yard line. A McElroy to Richardson checkoff pass set Bama up with a first down at the two-yard line, first and goal. And then back-up tailback Eddie Lacy fumbled the ball into the end zone for a touchback.
Alabama added another quick touchdown to start the second quarter. Starting at the San Jose State 42, Richardson picked up three yards on first down, then got the other 39 on second down with a run that started around right end, then cut back to the middle and went in untouched. Bama had a 21-3 lead.
Speaking of quick, A.J. McCarron took over at quarterback on the Tide's next possession and showed he had been paying attention while on the sidelines. Like McElroy, McCarron knows that Julio Jones is a reliable receiver. McCarron's first play at quarterback was a quick pass to Jones for an 11-yard gain to the Spartans' 29. His second pass was rewarded with a fine one-handed catch as Jones fell in the end zone. That made it Alabama 28, San Jose State 3.
Alabama used a hurry-up offense to set up a 41-yard field goal by freshman Cade Foster on the final play of the first half. His kick gave Alabama a 31-3 halftime lead.
Alabama's first half touchdown drives took, in order: 3:22, 2:24, 1:12, and 33 seconds. The field goal drive took 1:12.
Alabama continued the quick work in the second half. A San Jose punt pinned the Tide at its eight-yard line, but Alabama took only 2:49 to go the distance. Demetrius Goode had a couple of runs for a first down, McElroy completed a 25-yard pass to Jones, and on the sixth play Lacy did something to redeem himself for his first half fumble with a 27-yard touchdown run that made it Bama 38, Spartans 3.
That seemed to do it for most of the Alabama offensive starters. New starting offensive linemen D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack stayed in with an offense that was mostly second teamers.
That group drove close to the San Jose State goalline late in the third quarter, where Foster kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Tide a 41-3 lead.
In a drive that started in the third quarter and ended early in the fourth period, Bama drove 55 yards in seven plays, Lacy carrying four times for 40 yards and McCarron hitting Brandon Gibson on two passes for 15 yards. Lacy's final run in the drive went 10 yards up the middle with Lacy bouncing out of a tackle. The drive took 3:05. After Shelley had kicked the first five extra points, Foster kicked it to 48-3.
At that point, Alabama had equaled the point production of Ole Miss earlier in the day. Unfortunately for the Rebels, their 48 came in two overtimes with Jacksonville State scoring 49.
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