Alabama Football News

Five takeaways from Alabama’s season-opening win over Hurricanes

Phidarian Mathis (No. 48) celebrates a big play for Alabama's defense versus Miami
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics/ SEC Media Portal

The University of Alabama continues to reload on talent, and that was the message sent last week. 

Despite losing Mac Jones, Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Landon Dickerson, Alex Leatherwood, and Deonte Brown to the National Football League, the Crimson Tide did not skip a beat on offense against Miami.

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Bill O’Brien coached the group to 44 points and 501 total yards in his debut as the offensive coordinator. Defensively, Pete Golding coached his unit to allow 13 points and 266 yards as the Tide earned a 44-13 win over the Hurricanes. 

Everyone inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium was impressed with Alabama, as it won its 11th marquee season of the Saban era and seventh matchup versus an ACC school.

Crimson Tide fans left the venue with a lot to be excited about, but yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine highlights five important takeaways from Alabama’s fast start. 

1. Bryce Young is the real deal  

He may not be the tallest quarterback, but Bryce Young is dangerous with his arm. 

His debut as a first-year starter against Miami could not have been scripted any better. 

The sophomore redirected the protection on the offensive line, targeted nine different receivers, displayed accuracy and timing on passes, and played with confidence in the face of pressure.

Alabama’s offense had five touchdown drives with Young while he tied the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game record for scoring tosses (four). 

He connected with John Metchie, Jameson Williams, and Cameron Latu for scores. Young found Latu for a pair of touchdowns and his 94-yard strike to Williams is tied for the second-longest touchdown pass in school history.

His 344 passing yards and output for scores both set school records for his first start.

RELATED: Alabama kicker Will Reichard continued perfection from 2020 against Miami

Young’s numbers were better than Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, and Jalen Hurts during their first career starts at Alabama. 

2. Alabama’s WR room is lethal 

DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are gone, but John Metchie and Jameson Williams are individuals to hold down the fort in Alabama’s wide receiver room. 

Metchie did not practice in the spring (recovering from surgeries); however, he was back to himself versus Miami. The junior caught Young’s first touchdown of the matchup: a 37-yard scoring toss in the first quarter. Metchie showed off his hands, speed, and balance to stretch the ball inside the pylon for a touchdown. He led the team in catches (six) for 76 receiving yards. 

Nick Saban stated in the summer about the ‘juice’ that Williams brings to the offense.  

His acceleration was on display in a 94-yard race to the end zone for a touchdown. As a transfer from Ohio State, Williams showed great hands, proficient routes, speed, and body control. He led the Tide in receiving yards (126) on four catches.

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Slade Bolden and Javon Baker each caught three passes while JoJo Earle totaled two receptions for 25 yards. Agiye Hall, a true freshman, caught one pass and Traeshon Holden got involved with one catch for 12 yards. 

As Young continues to grow, the receiver room will become more confident.  

3. Alabama’s defense is back to its standard 

It was nice to see Alabama score 44 points, but fans left Atlanta feeling overjoyed about the defensive performance from the Crimson Tide.

The addition of Henry To’oto’o has restored the team to an elite level. People saw an Alabama defense that reminding them of how dominant it was before the 2018 season. Miami’s D’Eriq King was sacked four times and intercepted twice.

Malachi Moore (defensive back) and Jaylen Moody (linebacker) picked off King, while Will Anderson Jr., Christian Harris, Phidarian Mathis, and Christopher Allen each had one sack. 

The Hurricanes were limited to 87 yards rushing on 2.8 yards per carry. Alabama’s third-down defense was stellar as it forced 8 three-and-outs.

Coach Golding directed his group to force three turnovers while allowing 13 points. Miami totaled 266 yards offensively in a rough loss. 

4. Cameron Latu will be a huge weapon this season 

Jahleel Billingsley has more talent, but seeing Cameron Latu own the stage and national spotlight might have woken him up.

He was moved to tight end from outside linebacker in the summer of 2019 and has blossomed.

Latu, a redshirt junior, caught three passes versus the Hurricanes – including two for touchdowns.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder worked his way into open areas on the field and made big plays.

His scores came on catches of nine and 25 yards. 

RELATED: Bryce Young sets records in impressive starting debut for Alabama vs. Miami

He created a lot of buzz in spring practice and fall camp, and Tide fans are starting to see why. 

Latu’s physicality makes him a perfect target for Young, and he has an opportunity to create a desirable draft stock for himself.  

5. Will Reichard is still perfect & it’s scary 

Alabama fans are officially putting their rituals away when it comes to kickers. 

Will Reichard is the answer they had been looking for. After achieving perfection last season, Reichard picked up where he left off.

He was outstanding against Miami, connecting on his three field goals. The junior made kicks from 38, 51, and 40 yards. His 51-yarder had people going crazy at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as he bent the ball through the uprights with confidence. 

Reichard made all five PAT attempts, accounting for 14 of the Tide’s 44 points. He also executed touchbacks on his seven kickoffs. Reichard is coming for every honor this year. 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “watch” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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