Alabama Crimson Tide teaches Arkansas State Red Wolves some painful lessons
The Crimson Tide dropped an elbow on the Red Wolves from the top turnbuckle. Yet, not all was lost.
The first four minutes were the worst. The Crimson Tide scored two touchdowns – and missed one of two extra points on the day. The Red Wolves, pledging discipline throughout the off season, nevertheless committed nearly half a dozen penalties. The comedy of errors was crowned with a mishandled snap and a seven yard punt.
It took about 240 seconds to realize that an Alabama upset wasn’t in the cards for Arkansas State.
The Crimson Tide, coming off a 51-14 evisceration of Louisville, had little mercy for the Red Wolves. Tua Tagovailoa appeared in Heisman form, passing for three first-quarter touchdowns against an Arkansas State defense determined to harass the sophomore into mistakes. To the Red Wolves’ credit, the D did manage to make Tagovailoa’s replacement, Jalen Hurts, cough up a fumble at the goal line – resulting almost immediately in another amazing display of punting from Cody Grace.
When the chalk settled, Nick Saban grumpily came away with a 57-7 victory, and the Red Wolves hobbled out of Tuscaloosa with a $1.7M check – plus a few valuable takeaways:
We still haven’t a clue who the Red Wolves are
After two weeks, Arkansas State have a victory over an FCS program and a loss to the world’s #1 football team. There’s too much distance between these extremes to truly understand what Blake Anderson’s squad is capable of achieving. This week’s road match with Tulsa will reveal everything.
The run game was pretty good
Red Wolves fans expected an air show from Justice Hansen and his excellent wide receivers. But the Crimson Tide defense wasn’t cooperating. The run game, however, saw considerably more success against Alabama than Louisville’s. The Red Wolves pounded 173 rushing yards for a 5.6 average. The Cardinals only tallied 16. Warren Wand (6o yards) and Marcel Murray (34) looked strong out of the backfield, giving hope that the Red Wolves offense is more than just Hansen’s arm.
Red Wolves defense played all its chips (and lost)
The defensive strategy seemed all in on getting to Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, which resulted in a single sack. Still, this wasn’t bad strategy, and the defensive line appeared to go toe-to-toe with the Crimson Tide. However, the Red Wolves secondary seemed mostly lost in the backfield, with many of Tagolvailoa’s touchdown passes going uncontested. Clearly, the corners and safeties have work to do.
Red Wolves tied the turnover battle
Arkansas State collected a fumble. Alabama picked a pass (and ran it in for a score). Still, escaping from the #1 team with only one lost ball is pretty good. The pick on Hansen wasn’t pretty. Indeed, most of his day wasn’t pretty. But he kept the ball safe for the most part.
Sun Belt Orbital View
Despite three road losses to Power Five programs, the Sun Belt had a pretty successful Saturday, securing four FBS wins (three over CUSA programs) and remained undefeated against the FCS.
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.