Alabama Football 2017 Report Card: Week 2 v. Fresno State

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide speaks during a press conference after the Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide speaks during a press conference after the Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /
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Alabama football certainly dominated the affair with the Fresno State Bulldogs; however, was it dominant enough? Let’s check the grades for this week.

The afternoon air was electric in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for the Crimson Tide’s first home game of the season. Bryant-Denny Stadium was a warm 83 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), the always-classy tailgaters were out in droves, and the team was ready to lay a shellacking on the Bulldogs.

Even our own Twitter personnel were excited to start the game:


It wasn’t false hope. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Alabama football was the 98.9% favorite to win the game. Both teams came into the competition undefeated, but Alabama’s victory came over a strong Florida State football team while Fresno State defeated a much weaker program.

Alabama was looking to use this matchup as a tuneup. They needed to fix some of the issues in the passing game, being able to protect their quarterback in order to spread the ball around. Starting quarterback Jalen Hurts had a TD with 96 yards passing in that game.

Was he able to build on that initial progress?

Offense:  A-

If Hurts would have played the entire game, the grade would have been higher.

Hurts surpassed many of his stats in the first quarter, alone. He threw 10 for 11 with 91 yards and a touchdown, while rushing five times for 81 yards and two more TDs. His feet were nimble, but his mind was quick as he read the defense and spread the ball around to many of his receivers. A big step up from targeting Calvin Ridley almost the entire game against FSU. Overall, Hurts threw for 128 yards while he rushed for 154 yards, demonstrating a balanced attack.

It was ‘Tua Time’ as Tua Tagovailoa came into the game at different points, when Alabama had a sizeable lead. It was a learning experience for the young man, as he threw six of nine attempts for completions for 64 yards.

At times, he looked like his inexperience would dictate as he was tentative in the pocket and even was sacked. That can also be put on the offensive line which was still on a learning curve of its own this week. However, the fresh face at quarterback did make a touchdown throw and got some experience handling the reigns of the offense.

Defense:  C+

That’s what happens when your defense takes away the run but can’t stop the long shots down the field.

After a few shots burning the corners, Alabama’s secondary stayed back on slant routes. Inevitably, Fresno State picked up on that tactic and continued to dump to the slants for 8-9 yards a pass.

What seemed to start the slant marathon was in the first quarter, up 14-0 and having the Bulldogs on 3rd & 5 on their own 43, the Tide’s Isaiah Buggs was called on the offside penalty. It essentially bailed out the Bulldogs, who proceeded to complete a 30-yard pass play to Da’Mari Scott to the Alabama 18 yard line.

They could only muster a field goal, but the statement was made on how a better team could pick apart Alabama’s defensive strategy.

Having said that, the Alabama defense did create fumbles and an interception, but the game was already won by the offense. The defenders might have also believed that, because with 6:06 left in the fourth quarter Bulldogs quarterback Chason Virgil threw a 26-yard dart to Derrion Grim for a touchdown.

Grim easily shook off his cornerback with a shimmy shake to the outside, running a go route that was not picked up by the rest of the secondary for a relatively easy score. Much to the chagrin of Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

If Saban’s upset with the defense, does one dare give them a B?

Special Teams:  A-

Scott didn’t only burn Alabama on defense. He also had three kick returns that totalled 94 yards, his longest being 63 yards. While Alabama’s kicker Andy Pappanastos made his kicks and JK Scott made his punts, that return could have been a touchdown.

However, Alabama was able to keep the Bulldogs relatively back in their own end for most of the game, making them have to pass repeatedly to get past the 50 yard line.

Next: A Canadian's Curse Of Loving Alabama Football

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