Upon Further Review: Alabama 62, New Mexico State 10

T.G. Paschal/BamaCentral

Everything you might have missed from the Crimson Tide's 2019 home-opening victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — If you thought “Was that fast? That looked fast to me,” when University of Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III went 75 yards on the Crimson Tide’s first snap against New Mexico State, you were not alone.

Approximately nine seconds ticked off the Bryant-Denny clock after the junior speedster took the lateral from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Ruggs didn’t run a straight line, plus he slowed down near the end.

According to Alabama’s GPS technology, which can measure just how fast an athlete is running, he was going 23 mph en route to the end zone for the 75-yard score.

It's not the first time Ruggs has registered that speed during a game, going 23 mph during his 84-touchdown against Missouri last season.

He subsequently said he thought 24 or 25 mph was possible.

We absolutely, positively believe him.

Play of the game: The 75-yard touchdown gave Alabama a 7-0 lead before some fans even had a chance to sit down.

Player of the game: Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy combined for 263 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. 

Statistic of the game: Alabama has a 27-game winning streak when scoring a touchdown on its first possession of the game. The last time it lost was to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2013 season, 45-31.

Here are some other things you might not have noticed or known about Saturday’s game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, a 62-10 victory for the Crimson Tide.

1] Strange but true: New Mexico State ran more offensive plays, 69-65.

2] Topping 600 yards for the 14th time under Nick Saban: Despite having just 8 yards of total offensive during the fourth quarter, Alabama finished with 603. It was the first 600-yard game since Arkansas last season (Oct. 6), and the 25th 500-yard game out of the last 60 the Crimson Tide has played.

3] Who played, part I: Per the official game stats, Alabama used 67 players. Among those making their debuts were redshirt freshmen Christian Barmore and Jarez Parks. True freshmen playing for the first time were including tight end Jahleel Billingsley, linebacker King Mwikuta and offensive linemen Tanner Bowles and Pierce Quick. 

4] Who played, part II: Making their first starts were running back Najee Harris, and with Alabama using a seven defensive-back formation freshman Jordan Battle, who finished with five tackles. 

5] Yards after the catch: Unofficially, Alabama had 163, which was nearly 100 fewer from last week’s 264. However, if the opening touchdown would have counted as a pass instead of a lateral, the Crimson Tide would have had 243, exceeding 500 in just two games. Jeudy leads the team with 235, which is just under half of his season total in 2018.

6] Most around the ball: Safety Xavier McKinney led the team again, albeit barely. Statistically, defensive “touches” are found by adding together tackles, assists, passes broken up, interceptions, hurries, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. McKinney has an early lead, but tied for second are senior defensive lineman Raekwon Davis and freshman linebacker Shane Lee.

7] Oops: We don’t like to bash officials, who have an enormously thankless job, but the block-to-the-back penalty on Josh Jobe to nullify a punt return for a touchdown by Jaylen Waddle, was questionable. The Aggies player who drew it wasn’t touched until after he lost his footing and was already on his way down to the ground.

8] Oops II: The game statisticians credited the reception by Josh Metchie to DeVonta Smith. In their defense, though, telling the difference between a 6 and 8 from the press box can be very difficult.

9] Coincidence?The targeting call against New Mexico State, which was correctly reversed, may have been just some bad timing. On the previous play, Tagovailoa took a low hit around his knees, which probably brought some immediate feedback from the Crimson Tide about protecting the quarterback.

10] Who was thrown at: New Mexico State didn’t complete a pass with starting cornerbacks Trevon Diggs or Patrick Surtain II in coverage. There was a dropped ball, though. The only completion against a cornerback was the play Jobe ran into umpire Wally Hough, resulting in a 44-yard gain and Diggs carried off the field from cramps after making a touchdown-saving tackle.

Patrick Surtain II makes an interception against New Mexico State
Cornerback Patrick Surtain II had an interception and forced fumble against the Aggies.T.G. Paschal/BamaCentral

11] Well, they tried: A big part of the Aggies’ passing strategy was to attack Lee or throw to someone out of the backfield. It did so at least 16 times, of which the longest gain was just 9 yards.

12] Jeudy mark I: Jeudy has had a touchdown reception in six straight games. It’s Alabama’s longest streak over the last 20 years.

13] Jeudy mark II: Jeudy’s three touchdown catches moved him into second on the Crimson Tide all-time touchdown receptions list with 20, while Ruggs is tied for fourth with Dennis Homan (1965-67) with 18 receptions. Alabama’s all-time leader is Amari Cooper who recorded 31 from 2012-14.

14] How quickly they forget: A week after having two tight ends catch touchdown passes, the Crimson Tide had only one player at the position have a catch, Giles Amos after the reserves had been inserted. Additionally, Alabama didn’t have the option of lining offensive lineman Matt Womack up as a tight end as he started the game at right guard.

15] Out of the gate in fifth: Tagovailoa’s passer-efficiency rating was 187.4. His early-season rating of 204.3 is slightly ahead of last year’s 199.4, which set the NCAA single-season record, but he’s only in fifth so far. The early leader is former teammate Jalen Hurts (252.3).

16] What domination looks like: When Tugovailoa was pulled after one possession in the third quarter, Alabama had outgained New Mexico State 446-72 in total yards. The score was 45-0.

17] Something to keep an eye on: Offensive lineman Landon Dickerson didn’t just make his first start at center, but during field goals and extra points he was at left guard.

18] No. 1: The sack by outside linebacker Chris Allen, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, was the first of his career (technically it was a half-sack shared with Demarcco Hellams, but still).

19] A 19-game streak: Nick Saban hasn’t lost a home opener since 1998, when Michigan State took a 23-16 defeat to Colorado State. 

20] Still going: Alabama has defeated 84 consecutive unranked teams, the longest streak in FBS history. It's now topped the record by 12, the length of an entire regular season — 72, Miami (1984-95) and Florida (1989-2000).

Nick Saban is No. 1
Nick Saban makes a point during his press conference after Alabama's 62-10 victory. Christopher Walsh/BamaCentral
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