Rapid Reaction: Record-setting Young leads Alabama to rout over Miami
Alabama ended the 2020 season atop the college football mountain. The defending national champion Crimson Tide started 2021 looking like they intend to stay there.
New starting quarterback Bryce Young set a program record and some emerging talents had their chance to shine as Bama got off to an ideal start on Saturday, defeating Miami 44-13 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Young became the first Bama quarterback to throw for 4 touchdown passes in his first start. Joe Namath and Mac Jones had 3 TD passes in their starting debuts for the Crimson Tide.
The California native set another record for a Tide QB in a starting debut with 344 passing yards. Young threw for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half alone on 19-of-27 passing. He tacked on the record-breaking 4th scoring pass in the third quarter and finished 27 of 38 with no interceptions.
Alabama (1-0), No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press poll, looked every bit worthy of the ranking in winning its opener for the 20th consecutive season.
No. 14 Miami (0-1) was outgained 291-107 in the first half and never looked to be a threat to the Crimson Tide. The Hurricanes put some points on the board eventually and did force Young to fumble late in the third quarter, but that was the lone blemish for the sophomore quarterback.
Tide linebacker Christopher Allen hit Canes QB D’Eriq King early in the second quarter, forcing the ball loose, and defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis pounced on the strip sack fumble. That set up Will Reichard’s 51-yard field goal for a 20-0 Bama lead, capping a 10-point spurt in a 2-minute, 41-second span.
On the previous drive, an already rough start for Miami’s defense got worse when safety Bubba Bolden, an all-ACC first-team preseason selection, was ejected for targeting.
Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide defense delivered, forcing 3 turnovers for the game and making King run from danger repeatedly after his protection broke down. King was 23 of 31 for 178 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs.
Miami finally got on the scoreboard with a 37-yard field goal by Andy Borregales on the final play of the first half, but that only closed the halftime margin to 27-3.
The Hurricanes drove to the goal line on their first possession of the second half, but the Tide defense stuffed a run by King on fourth down at the 1-yard line. On the next drive, Young avoided a safety by getting rid of the ball while on the run in the end zone — UM wanted a grounding call but the officials ruled that Young was outside the tackle box when he got rid of the ball — then on the next play Young hit Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams deep down the right side for a 94-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
Tight end Cameron Latu had 2 TD receptions and John Metchie, expected to be the next star receiver for coach Nick Saban’s team, had a TD catch as well.
Brian Robinson Jr., a Tuscaloosa native who bided his time for four years behind Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris on the running back depth chart, finally got his time to be the featured ballcarrier. Robinson had 10 carries for 53 yards in the first half alone and wound up with 12 for 60. His career high for carries in a game is 13.
One bit of bad news for the Crimson Tide was that Allen left the game with a right leg injury; he returned to the sidelines in the second half wearing a boot. Linebacker Henry To’oTo’o, a transfer from Tennessee, also left after getting shaken up on a hit in the second half.
The Crimson Tide stretched their winning streak to 15, starting with the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2020.