Our analysts broke down Alabama’s win over Florida State, and here are some of the key take aways from the marquee matchup of Week 1.
You still can’t run on Alabama
There are lot of new faces on Alabama’s defense this season, but the results are the same. The Crimson Tide defense stopped for zero or negative yards on eight of 24 rushing attempts—and six different Tide defenders contributed to those stops.
That’s one in every three rushing attempts that resulted in a run stuff, a remarkable rate for any team, let alone a young defense against an offense as strong as Florida State’s.
This area of the defense was a bit of an unknown coming into the season but after this performance, expectations should be sky high.
Same old Seminoles offensive line
The biggest flaw in Florida State’s offense a season ago was their inability to protect Deondre Francois. In 2016, Francois was pressured on just over 30 percent of dropbacks—a relatively high rate considering the caliber of the talent on Florida State’s roster.
Against Alabama, the Seminoles line picked up where it left off, allowing Francois to be pressured on 41 percent of his dropbacks.
Every Florida State offensive lineman allowed at least one pressure, with the exception of center Alec Eberle. Even tight end Ryan Izzo, who was held in as a blocker on 14 snaps, got in on the action, allowing two pressures.
Now with Francois out for the season, it will be even more critical for the line to sort out its issues.
Has Jalen Hurts improved?
Jalen Hurts was exceptional as a freshman, but he was most valuable due to his running ability. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin did a masterful job simplifying the game plan to cover up the fact that Hurts was extremely erratic when throwing downfield. Hurts’ passing chart from the 2016 season showed serious issues on any attempt beyond 10 yards.
Of course, with a defense as dominant as Alabama’s, you don’t necessarily need your quarterback to make plays downfield.
The Crimson Tide held the lead for the majority of the game against Florida State, which likely contributed to the decision to only ask Hurts to attempt six throws beyond 10 yards. He completed just two of those six attempts, which raises a red flag, but it’s far too small of a sample size to definitively say he’s the same quarterback as last season.