New names, new numbers and new coaches. an equivalent results.
No. 1 Alabama’s 44-13 win against No. 16 Miami to open the 2021 season was beyond the type of predictable dismantling of an influence Five non-conference opponent we’ve come to expect from the Crimson Tide.
With new starters at several key spots and a replacement offensive coordinator, Alabama placed on a show against the not-ready-for-prime-time Hurricanes to quite justify the preseason hype surrounding the newest Nick Saban-coached team set to form a run at the school Football Playoff and therefore the national championship.
Ahead 27-3 at halftime, the Tide stopped Miami one yard shy of the line on the opening drive of the third quarter then scored on a 94-yard touchdown pass 50 seconds later, in as demoralizing a moment of play imaginable between two ranked teams.”I think that’s really important, especially when you have a lot of new players that don’t have a lot of experience,” the 69-year-old coach said moments after posing with those youngsters while donning an antique leather helmet awarded by the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. “When they get out into the game and they have some success, the payoff for all that work they’ve put in, that really helps the confidence. Hopefully it will help them continue to develop and improve.”
1) New-look Alabama stronger than ever in rout of Miami
To witness what happened inside the sci-fi-looking Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday afternoon was indeed like being trapped within some kind of Marvel Comics time warp. A solid four hours of houndstooth-adorned reminder .
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Actually, don’t stop me. Keep reading. Because after tonight, this history won’t repeat itself for quite a while .
2008. Week 1. Atlanta. No. 24 Alabama upsets No. 9 Clemson 34-10. The win ignites Alabama’s return to the large time because it wins 12 regular-season games. Clemson completely falls apart and fires coach Tommy Bowden.
2009. Week 1. Atlanta. Fifth-ranked Alabama beats seventh-ranked Virginia Tech 34-24. Alabama goes on to win his first national championship under Saban, while the Hokies fade to a three-loss season.
2013. Week 1. Atlanta. No. 1 Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10.
2014. Week 1. Atlanta. No. 2 Alabama 33, West Virginia 23.
2019. Week 1. Atlanta. No. 2 Alabama 49, Duke 3.
And those are just the games played in Atlanta. the most important neutral-site victories happened in Orlando and Texas. There was the 52-6 thrashing of No. 20 USC in 2016, the 2012 and ’15 beatdowns of Michigan and Wisconsin, both in Arlington, Texas. And then the most gruesome mauling of them all, a 17-point win over No. 3 Florida State in Orlando that started the beginning of the end for Jimbo Fisher’s time with the Seminoles.
Every opening-act Battle of Atlanta, or Orlando, or Arlington, won has served the ultimate purpose of putting someone in their place. Perhaps it was an old-school powerhouse that needed to be told that Alabama was for real. Perhaps it was an upstart that thought it might be able to crash the Alabama playoff blockade. Perhaps it was just a showcase performed in front of a nation of recruits, especially those living in the neighborhoods of the teams the Tide just crushed.
The only negative from the Miami game was the injury to Chris Allen. Allen was hurt after making a fumble-causing, crunching tackle. Allen features a foot injury that Saban said may cause him to miss the season.
The defense, with or without Chris Allen, showed it’s the potential to be outstanding. Getting DeMarcco Hellams back at safety should prop up any weakness within the secondary. While Hellams and LaBryan Ray dressed Saturday, Saban said there was never any decide to play them. Both are expected back soon. Henry To’o To’o made a jarring tackle that hurt his elbow, but the injury wasn’t serious.