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Alabama races past New Mexico State in home opener

via:John David Mercer USA Today Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide showed out in the season opener at Bryant-Denny Stadium as the team defeated the New Mexico State Aggies 62-10.

Tua Taogvailoa and Alabama’s offense was able to get off to a fast start out of the gate as wide receiver Henry Ruggs III took a pass later ruled as a rush 75-yards on the first play from scrimmage. Following a bit of a quiet game against Duke, Ruggs had a much larger impact while he was on the field, burning defenders over the middle with his speed. The junior finished the game with four catches for 66 yards and one touchdown.

From there on the team never looked back as the aggies were obviously overmatched throughout the contest.

Tagovailoa yet again looked spectacular throwing the football, spreading out across his entire receiving core. The Heisman candidate finished 16-24 for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a short day of work.

Some of the biggest reactions from the crowd came from the two touchdown passes Tagovailoa connected with Jerry Jeudy on during the first half. Both players are proving to be one of the deadlier connections in the country as they were able to link up seven times for 82 yards. Jeudy would finish the game with eight catches for 103 yards and three touchdowns.

Sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Waddle added a number of chain moving grabs as well some electric returns on special teams.

After a bit of a pedestrian performance during week one, head coach Nick Saban decided to make a change on the offensive line sliding Landon Dickerson to center and starting senior Matt Womack at guard. The new-look unit seemed to perform a bit better despite going up against a bit of a lesser opponent. Thus, running backs Najee Harris and Brian Robinson moved the ball better on the ground as the two combined for 23 carries for 125 yards, one touchdown with an average of 5.45 yards per carry.

Backup quarterback Mac Jones also found himself a healthy amount of playing time in the second half. Jones’ first drive of the game finished with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jeudy as the redshirt sophomore gets more and more comfortable in his new role. Jones ended going 5/9 for 58 yards and a touchdown.

Freshman running back Keilan Robinson also took advantage of his playing time as he took his first carry of the game 74-yards for a score.

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Defensively was much of the same as the unit stalemated New Mexico States offense for a large portion of the game. Senior defensive tackle Raekwon Davis’s decision to return to school is looking better and better as he was a fixture in the aggies backfield all game. Redshirt freshman linebacker Shane Lee also appears to be everything defensive coordinator Pete Golding hoped for.

Outside linebackers Terrell Lewis, Anfernee Jenning and defensive end LaBryan Ray all put a lot of pressure on NMS quarterback Josh Adkins. Adkins was borderline running for his life the entire game, and when Alabama was able to pressure him and keep him in the pocket the secondary was able to make plays.

Sophomore cornerback Patrick Surtain II intercepted one of Adkins’ passes in the second quarter, high pointing the ball just as the group practices every day. A bit of a scare for the defense came in the third quarter as senior cornerback Trevon Diggs went down with a lower-body injury after making a touchdown-saving tackle. Diggs went into the medical tent but was able to leave and stay on the sideline for the remainder of the game. An update will likely come from Saban’s press conference later.

But the cherry on top from this game came from freshman kicker Will Reichard who served some poetic justice to some of his critics following his performance against Duke. After missing two field goals from 48 and 49 yards last week, Reichard drilled two from the same spots which both appeared to be good from 55 plus.

Be sure to follow Touchdown Alabama for updates on Nick Saban’s press conference following the game.

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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77

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