Alabama football: Headlines that have defined Tide's 8-0 start
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Don’t look now, but Alabama football is once again 8-0 entering its bye week and on top of the college football world.
Nick Saban has fielded dominant teams in the passing game, but most around the country agree that this feels different given the precision and explosiveness of the Tua Tagovailoa-led attack.
Alabama’s defense is giving up points at times, but that hasn’t mattered because the offense is putting up 50 or more on nearly everyone.
Here are the top 10 headlines that have defined Alabama’s 8-0 start.
Tua Tagovailoa is special
It would be very remiss of me to not start with the biggest story in college football, Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa has been nothing short of remarkable this season, building on his epic national championship victory over Georgia.
Despite only playing three or less quarters in every game this year, Tagovailoa is still among the best quarterback in the country from a statistical standpoint.
He leads the SEC and is tied for third nationally with 25 touchdown passes and has yet to throw an interception. AJ McCarron holds the single-season program record, throwing 30 in 2012. It seems inevitable that Tagovailoa soon will break it.
Jalen Hurts isn’t transferring. Or quitting
The other big story surrounding Alabama football was whether Jalen Hurts would stick with the team if he lost the starting job. Hurts indeed stayed, giving the Crimson Tide the best quarterback situation in the country. Hurts has shown improvement as a pocket passer this season. Hurts has played in every game, though he was injured last week against Tennessee. He had minor surgery for a high ankle sprain, and Nick Saban said he expects him to be ready for LSU.
Is Tagovailoa’s knee OK?
The only thing that could bring Alabama back to Earth is an injury to Tagovailoa. He’s been dealing with a knee injury the past few weeks, but hasn’t missed any more time than usual. Alabama’s bye week gives him some time to rest and get ready for the lone test of the regular season at LSU on Nov. 3.
Quinnen Williams is the latest monster on Alabama’s defensive line
Quinnen Williams is playing like the best defensive player in the country. He has been unblockable in his first year as a starter. Williams is not only being mentioned as a first-round pick for the 2019 NFL Draft, but some analysts have him going in the top 5 or 10 picks. That’s crazy to think about since he redshirted in 2016 and played sparingly last season.
Catch them if you can. You can’t
We talk a lot about Tagovailoa and rightfully so, but Alabama’s wide receivers have been unrecoverable to this point in the season. They’ve also made people miss in space, racking up insane yards after catch numbers.
Bama has five receivers, including tight end Irv Smith, ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in average yards per catch. Ridiculous.
What’s wrong with Alabama’s defense?
Alabama hasn’t been in danger of losing a game this year, but we have seen the defense struggle at times, particularly covering the middle of the field.
The crazy part is that it hasn’t mattered at all. Even when Alabama gave up 31 points to Arkansas, they still won by 34 because the offense is that explosive.
Alabama’s defense is scoring again
It’s not at the same insane rate we saw in 2016, but Alabama’s defense is scoring touchdowns again. Alabama has returned a nation’s best four interceptions for touchdowns. Teams are having to throw a lot in an effort to get back into games, and Alabama’s defense is taking advantage with big plays on interceptions.
Why can’t Alabama run the ball?! (Spoiler alert: It can)
People like to nitpick when it comes to Alabama, so the only thing anyone can find with this team has been the lack of consistency from the running game.
Honestly though, it hasn’t mattered because Alabama is passing the ball so well. Make no mistake, Alabama can run the ball. They just haven’t really needed to yet. The running backs are actually accounting for more yards than they did the past 2 years, when Hurts played such a dominant role.
Deionte Thompson is elite
Like his teammate Quinnen Williams, Alabama safety Deionte Thompson is another Tide defender who will have a tough decision to make after the season.
Thompson, who has one year of eligibility remaining after this season, is being mentioned as a first-round pick for the draft next year. The key here though is that Thompson already has his degree from Alabama. While all of the players love the university, it’ll be tough for anyone to pass up the opportunity to chase their dreams at the next level. Thompson has exceptional range on the back end, something NFL teams will love given how pass happy the league is.
Tide ain’t played nobody, Paawwwl!
This one is just for fun. Every year, Alabama runs through the early part of its schedule and every year naysayers question the level of Alabama’s competition.
Given how Purdue just ran all over Ohio State and how Clemson struggled with Syracuse, Alabama should be applauded for beating everyone on its schedule handily. Alabama doesn’t lose to unranked opponents and the games are rarely close.