Louisville under head coach Bobby Petrino did all the talking in the summer; however, it was Nick Saban and Alabama that earned a win to start the season.
A masterful performance from sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, couple with strong exploits from its defense and special teams, guided the Crimson Tide to a 51-14 win at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
Prior to the Southeastern Conference naming defensive end Quinnen Williams and receiver Jaylen Waddle as its players of the week, Saban and his coaching staff released Alabama’s nominees for players of the week on offense, defense and special teams on Monday.
Tagovailoa and left tackle Jonah Williams both were honored on offense.
In his first career start, Tagovailoa completed 12 of 16 passes (75 percent) for 227 yards and totaled three touchdowns – including a 9-yard rushing score. He kept the Tide ahead of schedule throughout the matchup and guided it to converting 10 third downs on 15 attempts.
Although both his scoring passes went to Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith caught four of Tagovailoa’s passes for a game-high 99 yards. As for Williams, he set the edge for 519 total yards and 51 points.
The three-year starter assisted all running backs, Tagovailoa included, to an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Behind Williams, Alabama’s offensive line surrendered one sack and pressure got to the native Hawaiian three times.
All in all, the group played a clean game.
On defense, Deionte Thompson and Quinnen Williams represented.
Thompson was all over the field and showed fans why this coaching staff and his teammates have so much trust invested in him. He recorded five tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups (team high) and one interception. Thompson’s range created his first takeaway and it came very close to providing him with a second one, except he could not keep his feet inbounds.
Williams was the star on the Tide’s defensive line.
In replacing Da’Ron Payne, the Birmingham native led the team in tackles (six) and tallied 3.5 tackles for loss with one pass breakup and one quarterback pressure. He assisted the Tide in limited Louisville’s rushing attack to 16 yards, while affecting Jawon Pass all game long.
Behind Thompson and Williams, Alabama forced three sacks, two turnovers and caused for Louisville’s wide receiving corps to be non-existent.
The trio of Keaton Anderson, Josh Jacobs and Jaylen Waddle all were recognized for their performances on special teams. Jacobs’ 77-yard kick return touchdown in the second half propelled him to having 112 all-purpose yards. Despite him stumbling around the 10-yard line, the junior kept his balance and reached the end zone. Waddle has Tide fans around the nation rejoicing, as its punt return game will return to being entertaining.
He had 80 punt return yards on four attempts – 20 yards/return — and his efforts kept the team in positive field position.
Waddle would have scored on one of his returns, but a block in the back foul negated his opportunity in recording his first collegiate touchdown. Congrats to all seven players on being awarded this week, and as it prepares for Arkansas State, Saban wants this group to continue seeking ways to improve.