Alabama Football: Air above Bryant-Denny will be filled with footballs

TOLEDO, OH - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Chason Virgil
TOLEDO, OH - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Chason Virgil /

Alabama football fans who love passing will enjoy Saturday’s game. Fresno State will be pass-heavy though maybe not pass-happy. The Tide will chunk it around as well.

Just because Fresno State has no chance against Alabama football does not make Saturday’s contest a throwaway game. It is a ‘money game’ for the Bulldogs program and also a measuring stick for new Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford.

Tedford will try to build a potent offense for the Bulldogs. He likes the spread with one-back sets. He is not averse to running the ball but doing so will be ineffective against the Tide. The Bulldogs will be pass-heavy because it will be the only way to move the ball.

Chason Virgil is not a typical dual-threat quarterback but he is athletic enough to move around in the pocket and scramble for yards.  He has completed 52 percent of his career passes at Fresno State.

Last week against Incarnate Word, Virgil was 16-29 for 246 yards. Considering the opponent, those were not massive numbers. The big difference last week is the Bulldogs also moved the ball on the ground. On Saturday Virgil will pass 40 or more times if Fresno State can maintain any possession.

The Bulldogs have a pretty good group of receivers, particularly 6-feet-2, 202 pounds, KeeSean Johnson. Johnson has caught 110 passes in his Fresno career. Fellow receivers Jamire Jordan, Justin Allen, Da’Mari Scott and Derrion Grom are capable as well.

Alabama football will look to stymie Virgil with an overwhelming pass rush. It could be a painful day for the Bulldogs’ QB but hopefully, it will not include injury.

Look for the Tide to air it out as well

Alabama football will be able to run on Fresno and Saban will want to keep the offense balanced. Nick also does not like to run up scores on weaker teams. Many backups will see action on both sides of the ball.

Fresno State was No. 123 in the FBS last season against the run during a one win, 2016 season. Alabama football could be one-dimensional and play power football against the Bulldogs. The offensive line needs the work even if the running backs do not.

However, the greater Tide need is honing its passing attack and building confidence with Jalen and Tua. Alabama football will not suddenly go ‘Air-Raid’ on Saturday,  but the near-practice setting for Tide QB’s cannot be wasted. It will be interesting to see if Saban and Daboll give Tua time with the first team offense.

For more Fresno State information, read our post on 2017 Tide opponents, from worst to best.

Next: Check out all the reasons the Tide returns to the CFB Playoff

If our analysis seems to disrespect Fresno State, we can add the Bulldogs likely have a small special teams advantage. Fresno State has a senior field-goal kicker who was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist last season. Check in with us on Friday for our Bama Hammer staff predictions.