IN THE CROSSHAIRS

In the Crosshairs: Tide’s Speed Too Much for Cards

Ken Cross

September 03, 2018 at 7:36 pm.

Sep 1, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Alabama Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Shyheim Carter (5) returns an interception for the score against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Photo Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 1, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Alabama Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Shyheim Carter (5) returns an interception for the score against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Photo Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa picked up where we last saw him as he completed 12 of 16 passes for 237 yards, threw for two scores and ran for another in leading Alabama to a resounding 51-14 win over Louisville in the Camping World Kickoff in Orlando, Fla. Tagovailoa orchestrated three Alabama scoring drives on the Crimson Tide’s first four possessions as Alabama took a 21-0 lead after Najee Harris scored on a one-yard run late in the first quarter.

The Ewa Beach, Hawaii native rose to national acclaim in last season’s national championship victory over Georgia as he rallied the Crimson Tide from a 13-0 deficit to a 26-23 overtime win.

Alabama opened against Louisville with a 7-play 65-yard drive that saw Tagovailoa duck under an on-coming pass rusher and find wide receiver Jerry Jeudy for his first touchdown catch of the night on an 11-yard hook up. He later found Jeudy on a 25-yard touchdown toss that gave Alabama a 28-0 lead at halftime.

“Tua played well and made some good throws, very accurate throws, and put the ball right on guys,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, “When they had half way decent coverage, he made good decisions for the most part.”

Elite Speed

Louisville has its share of athletes on both sides of the football, but the Crimson Tide gave a huge lesson in the depth and eliteness of its team speed. The Cardinals repeatedly missed tackles on defense while falling victim to the Crimson Tide’s defensive speed as they rushed for only 16 yards on 26 carries.

Early in the game, the Cardinals trailed 14-0, but had driven to the Tide 29. Wide receiver Jaylen Smith had gotten by Tide corner Trevon Diggs, so quarterback Jawon Pass threw the football over the top for what appeared to be a touchdown pass that would have made this interesting – at least for a while.

However, Alabama free safety Deionte Thompson left his position after the ball was released and made it to the sideline in a blink of an eye to pick off the pass and thwart the Cardinals’ opportunity. That played reflected what the Cardinals were up against all evening as the Crimson Tide took their elite speed and turned this into a boat race against the Cardinals, who have good speed themselves.

Cornerback Shyheim Carter also added a 45-yard pick-six early in the fourth quarter to put Alabama up 51-7.

Calling Signals

Alabama’s Nick Saban was good on his word as he did play both quarterbacks; however, Jalen Hurts did not enter the game until the Tide was up 21-0 and then re-entered after Alabama had gone ahead 41-7 late in the third quarter.

Saban had his own plan for how he would use Hurts, so there was no irony when Hurts took the field.

“I talked to both quarterbacks on Thursday before practice and they both knew exactly what the situation would be in the game,” said Saban, “I wanted Tua to play somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 plays and then we were going to put Jalen in the game.”

There’s no quarterback controversy in Tuscaloosa. Tagovailoa ran the offense with great precision and rhythm consistently throughout the game, while Hurts struggled once again in sustaining and finishing drives.

Cardinal Rules

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino talked after the game about the lessons the Cardinals could learn, even in a beat down against the nation’s top ranked team. He has a defense that is a work in progress and he was breaking in Jawon Pass with his first start behind the center.

The Cardinals have a schedule that could see them win as many as nine games as they will not likely be a decided underdog again until they roll into Clemson on Nov. 3. The film room plus fundamental improvement on the practice field plus the transfer of knowledge to the field on game day can yield a good season for Louisville.

“This has to help us,” said Petrino. “We are out there competing against some of the best players in the country and great coaching. This is not a failure if we learn from it.”

The Cardinals were stymied all evening until they finally struck midway through the third quarter when Juwan Pass hit Kemari Averett in the back of the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 6:27 left in the third quarter.

 

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