Alabama Football: How did 10 young players perform against Fresno St.?

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 09: Tua Tagovailoa
TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 09: Tua Tagovailoa /
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The Alabama football participation report against Fresno State is filled with youth. Let’s drill down to the performance of ten young Tiders.

An already young Alabama football team became even younger against FSU. Saturday, against Fresno State, several young or less experienced players played significant roles. We will take a close look at the performance of ten players.

We use an expanded interpretation of ‘young’ to include upper classmen with limited past experience. Among the ten Alabama football players reviewed below, five are true freshmen, two are sophomores, two are redshirt juniors and one is a senior.

The players were split with seven on defense and three on offense. Of the seven on defense, three players made their first starts for Alabama football.

The three defensive starters

Raekwon Davis – Sophomore – Defensive End

Robbed of a sure start by a stray bullet FSU week, Kwon Davis started at defensive end opposite Da’Shawn Evans. In limited play against FSU, Davis recorded an impressive sack.

In limited play against FSU, Davis recorded an impressive sack. Against Fresno State Kwon was a force inside and outside on the defensive line. Davis recorded 3 solo tackles, five assisted tackles and one QB-hurry.

Jamey Mosley – Redshirt Junior – Outside Linebacker

The former walk-on, Mosley was the Sam linebacker replacement for Christian Miller. Mosley made two tackles against Fresno State.

Levi Wallace – Senior – Left Cornerback

Another former walk-on, Wallace replaced Trevon Diggs early in the FSU game. His stellar play against FSU earned him the start on Saturday. Game reports do not show passes defended but Wallace was very active against the Bulldogs. He made one solo tackle in the game.

Four more young defenders

Chris Allen – True Freshman – Outside Linebacker

Though not listed as a starter in the Game Report, Allen was the starter when the Tide used a Jack linebacker Saturday. Allen was the replacement for the injured Anfernee Jennings. Allen was credited with one QB-hurry in the game.

Mack Wilson – Sophomore – Inside Linebacker

The new starter filling in for Rashaan Evans on Saturday was Keith Holcombe. We do have what Nick calls ‘pitch counts’ but Mack Wilson appeared to play as much as Holcombe. Wilson had two solo and two assisted tackles. He also looked good utilizing his speed in pass defense.

Johnny Dwight – Redshirt Junior – Defensive Line

Johnny Dwight made the only sack of Fresno QB, Chason Virgil. Dwight also made two solo and one assisted tackles. Dwight’s productivity was impressive in a backup role.

Dylan Moses – True Freshman – Outside Linebacker

Moses was active fighting to reach the QB. He did not record any stats as a pass rusher but he made two assisted tackles.

The defensive stats from Saturday show the entire Alabama football defense did not often pressure the Fresno QB. At least part of that result was due to The Bulldogs’ plan to make quick throws to short routes.

The three freshmen on offense

Tua Tagovailoa – True Freshman – Quarterback

Tua worked with both the first unit and also the offensive backups. In Tua’s first action of the season, he performed well. In the touchdown drive led by Tua, he made a tremendous throw.

Rolling to his right, the left-hander could not plant and step into his throw. On arm strength alone, Tua drilled a 24-yard completion to Xavian Marks. Tua finished the drive with a 16-yard TD pass to Henry Ruggs III.

For the game, Tua was 6-9 for 64 yards. Despite taking an eight-yard sack, Tua finished with eight yards rushing on three carries.

Najee Harris – True Freshmen – Runningback

Najee Harris rushed 13 times in the game. He had a net rushing total of 70 yards including a 25-yard run. Harris also caught a ten-yard pass.

Henry Ruggs III – True Freshman – Wide Receiver, Kick Returner

Ruggs had little action as a kick returner. He made the first pass reception of his Alabama football career, a 16-yard catch for a touchdown.

More important than winning a virtually un-losable game, ten ‘young’ Tide players got valuable experience.  We expect all ten players will play key roles throughout 2017. It is not hard to see most of them having exceptional Crimson tide careers.

Next: The 30 Greatest Games in Crimson Tide History

Check in with us Sunday as we review a long list of key game results for Alabama football fans. At least three games in week two of college football could impact CFB Playoff chances.