ORLANDO - After making the whole world wait to see who the starting quarterback, coach Nick Saban announced his decision when Tua Tagovailoa trotted onto the field to take the first snap of the game.
ORLANDO- After making the whole world wait to see who the starting quarterback, coach Nick Saban announced his decision when Tua Tagovailoa trotted onto the field to take the first snap of the game. The decision paid off as the Crimson Tide’s offense exploded for five touchdowns on route to winning 51-14 over Louisville.
Tagovailoa dominated the Cardinal defense. The sophomore completed 75 percent of his passes, while throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He also finished with 26 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“He executed,” Saban said. “He did what he was supposed to do. He read the right things. He was well prepared for the game.”
Of the six drives he started, Tagovailoa led five touchdown drives. The only drive that failed to produce any points was stopped deep inside Louisville territory once DeVonta Smith took a shot and fumbled.
On the first touchdown of the game, Tagovailoa evaded linebacker Jon Greenard, who came off the edge unblocked, spun, stepped up in the pocket and threw off his back foot to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who finished with two touchdowns and 64 receiving yards.
“The light kind of messed up my eyes,” Jeudy said. “I saw it last minute. Tua just made a great pass. The line did a great job blocking and I just made a play on the ball.
Alongside Tagovailoa, the Crimson Tide ran all over the Cardinals, finishing with 222 yards and three touchdowns. Eight players finished with multiple carries. Senior running back Damien Harris led the team with 55 yards rushing. Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris each finished with a touchdown.
While Alabama’s offense moved the ball almost willingly the whole game, Louisville’s offense didn’t fare as well against the Alabama defense.
Louisville had a prolific running game in 2017, but with the loss of Lamar Jackson, Malik Williams and Reggie Bonnafon the running game didn’t stand a chance against the Alabama front line. The Cardinals ran for just 16 yards on 26 carries.
“We just followed the calls that our coaches were calling,” nose guard Quinnen Williams said. “Everybody was doing their job, so that’s basically what it was.”
The biggest question about the defense was its secondary, since the Crimson Tide lost all of its starters from last year’s national championship team to either the draft or graduation. However, it shut down the Cardinal passing game for the most part.
Cardinal quarterback Jawon Pass connected on 51 percent of his passes and threw for 252 yards, 152 of which came in the second half once Alabama had all but put the game away.
“We got a lot of things we can take away from this week, and we have a lot of stuff we need to improve on as well,” defensive back Deionte Thompson said.
While Pass had a solid second half, the secondary was disruptive for most of the game. It forced two interceptions and broke up six passes.
Thompson finished with an interception and three pass breakups alongside five total tackles.
Thompson’s interception killed the only momentum Louisville had in the entire first half. The Cardinals crossed the 50-yardline once and drove all the way down to the Alabama 26-yardline. There Pass lofted a pass into the end zone before Thompson snatched it away and returned it 25 yards.
Shyheim Carter finished with the other interception, which he took back for a touchdown.
Alabama plays Arkansas State at home for its next game, before going back on the road for its first SEC matchup of the season.