What We Learned: Alabama vs Utah State:

Alabama destroyed Utah State in a 55-0 domination of a season opener last night in Bryant-Denny stadium. While not a soul expected this one to be remotely close and we can’t take away too much until we see Alabama play a quality opponent, there are still things that we learned about both sides of the ball. Let’s start with the offense:

Bryce Young picks up right where he left off:

Breaking news: the reigning Heisman winner is still REALLY good at football. Alabama is replacing a lot on offense this season, namely their three leading receivers from last season, but Young appears to already have a rapport with the new unit. Finishing 18/28 for 195 yards and 5 touchdowns, Young spread the ball around to his new top targets, with the top three in Jermaine Burton, Traeshon Holden, and Kobe Prentice, finishing with five receptions each. Holden and Burton caught two touchdowns each, but more on the receivers later.

One thing that also stuck out to me was Young’s willingness to run with the ball. He finished as the Tide’s leading rusher, with five carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps some of the running lanes he had should maybe make this stat be taken with a grain of salt (on the four yard touchdown run even, he really just waltzed into the end zone). But Young being a bigger part of the ground game on offense just makes the unit even more dangerous. And he certainly looked dangerous with his legs last night.



It remains to be seen what kind of carry share the backfield will have.

Jahmyr Gibbs is a big play waiting to happen. But Alabama’s running back room may be too talented to keep just one on the field. Gibbs led the unit in carries with nine of them. Jase McClellan caught two touchdowns and had five carries, and freshman Jamarion Miller got seven carries. Roydell Williams saw some work as well. In a closer game, I would think Gibbs would have been on the field more, but we will have to wait and see on this.

The receiver group could be for real:

Perhaps the group with the most turnover from 2021 to 2022 is the pass catchers. Losing all three of their top receivers from last season in Jameson Williams, John Metchie, and Slade Bolden, Alabama replaces them with junior Traeshon Holden, Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton, and freshman speedster Kobe Prentice.

Both Holden and Burton caught two touchdown passes, and showed off their route running prowess and physicality in the process. But I think the story here, not just on the stat sheet, is Kobe Prentice. Prentice looked quick and incredibly dynamic out of the slot, and yes, it has only been one game, but his game reminds me of a young Jaylen Waddle. He is going to be dangerous in the open field with the ball in his hands, and he will be a huge part of this offense this season.

On Prentice, “He’s exactly what we look for playing the slot and he’s done a really, really good job,” Nick Saban stated after the game.


The offensive line looked shaky:

Things got better as the game went on, but the offensive line did not get off to a great start run blocking or pass blocking. Young was under some pressure early and it seemed like they were struggling to get a significant push against the Aggies front. Things tightened up enough and Young got rid of the ball quick enough for it not be a factor in this game, but this quality of play won’t fly later in the season.

It can be argued that issues along the line are the number one thing that kept Alabama from winning a championship last year, so this season’s re-tooled unit must improve. They have plenty of time to figure it out and will get better as they learn to play together, but if there was one area of concern for the Tide, it was this unit.

The defense is as-advertised:

Yes, it was Utah State. Yes, they were 42 point favorites. But this defense is pretty unbelievable. They allowed just seven first downs and 136 total yards. The Aggies did not cross mid-field in the first half. They actually surprisingly did not get to the quarterback for a sack, but overall they were simply a brick wall. Once again, we will see how it looks against some higher level competition, but it’s hard for Tide fans not to get excited about a unit that has the potential to be one of Saban’s best ever.

The Tide travel to Austin next week to take on the Texas Longhorns, where we should find out some more about this team. A true road game in a tough environment is a rarity this early in a season for Alabama, so this is nice test for them. There’s a long season to go, but a 55-0 shutout in game one has to make even Nick Saban smile just a little bit.