Alabama Football 2017 Report Card: Week 1 v. FSU

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 28: An Alabama Crimson Tide fan holds up a 'Roll Tide' sign during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 28: An Alabama Crimson Tide fan holds up a 'Roll Tide' sign during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama Crimson Tide football was on display against Florida State, but how good was that victory? Let’s check the grades for this week.

Ronald Evans of said it best in his title for the game breakdown: the special teams were too much for FSU. Maybe not so much the field goals as it was about field position: “How often does a team miss two field goals and have a nine-yard punt AND win by special teams play? Not often. It happened Saturday night in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.”

In what was supposed to be a battle of two titans of college football, the special teams made the affair much more one-sided than expected. Alabama won the game 24-7, while FSU fans watched as their starting quarterback Deondre Francois went down with an injury that may spell doom for their season.

Our own Meredith Hornsby was at the game in Atlanta, and she captured a moment that summarized how the game went for FSU fans in the stands:

However, what should be noted is that not all sides of Alabama football were making plays. Let’s examine each of the three parts to the team and give them a grade for their night.

Offense: C-

For some Alabama football fans, this grade may seem generous. The 24 points should have been a great deal more, had it not been for the offense failing to move the ball at key moments. After numerous interceptions and special teams pinning Florida State deep in their own end, the offence had to settle for three field goals. One was near the FSU 10-yard line, for which the offence could not punch the ball inside the end zone.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 10 out of 18 passes for only 98 yards. One of them, at least, was for a short touchdown on a rollout to the right. Hurts carried the ball 15 times for 55 yards, while running back Damien Harris earned a touchdown and 73 yards on nine carries. Bo Scarbrough tied his QB for carries but only mustered 40 yards.

At times, the play-calling of Brian Daboll frustrated some fans:

However, many of the potential big plays were squandered by Hurts tucking the ball early in receivers’ routes. Except for the long play-action pass to Calvin Ridley for the first touchdown of the game, Hurts either was hurried by the FSU defensive line or he did not seem to trust that he could stand in the pocket and put the ball where it needed to be thrown.

Florida State will not be the only team that decides to make Alabama football beat them with the pass. FSU’s strategy to take away the run worked for most of the game. If it wasn’t for the excellent plays on defense and special teams, the game would have been much closer. Close enough that maybe those FSU fans would have been singing together instead of fighting.

Special Teams: A-

If not for Andy Pappanastos missing two out of his five field goal attempts and the shanked punt by JK Scott, this grade would have been perfect. Between the blocked punt and otherwise refusing to let FSU have any good starting field position, the special teams dictated how the game went for the opposition.

Judging by social media reactions, many Alabama football fans would have liked that grade given to the offense more than seeing the special teams crew get it:

Defense: A

This grade may seem a bit harsh, but it was based on the entire game. Let’s remember that Francois threw darts for 210 yards before he was injured. He may have thrown two interceptions, but he looked on fire in the first quarter. It didn’t look like any Alabama corners could cover the tall FSU wide receivers.

Next: Crimson Tide special teams too much for FSU

The turning point came when Alabama’s defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt switched up his blitz packages. He had outside linebackers take turns rushing the quarterback while backing up his middle linebacker to the side of the blitz, effectively creating a man-zone coverage mix. Francois looked puzzled, as well as his receivers who didn’t recognize the blitzes coming and didn’t run back for the passes.

Alabama’s rushing defense carried over from their success last season. FSU could only muster 40 combined yards rushing.

Overall, the defense did it’s job. The mixing created two interceptions and a fumble recovery that did not allow FSU any momentum.

*** Follow us @BamaHammer and join the conversation next week as the Crimson Tide is home in Tuscaloosa against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Meredith Hornsby will be in control of the account, as always, so it should be a great time!