COLUMBIA, Mo. (WBRC) - The Alabama Crimson Tide’s performance in their first game of the season had all the rockstar moments college football fans had been hoping for.
But for all the stardom of the first half, mistakes that emerged in the second could prove costly as the season progresses.
It was a slow start to game 1 of the 10-game SEC season showdown as Bama took the field against the Missouri Tigers.
Both teams came up empty with a 3 and out on opening possessions.
The Tide found a steady rhythm on the second possession. It was beat after beat as the run game found yard after yard and drug the chains with increasing pace. The drive was alive and well when 6 plays in, a 36 yard bullet from Mac Jones headed straight to Devonte Smith was shutdown under phenomenal coverage by Missouri safety Joshuah Bledsoe. But in a testament to the well oiled machine, the momentum wasn’t broken. 6 more plays and 34 rushing yards from senior Najee Harris, puts the Tide into the endzone for their first score of the season.
Mizzou responded with accuracy. Shawn Robinson completed a 23 yd pass to Jalen Knox, followed by a 11 yd run, where Larry Rountree spun out of a block to give the Tigers back to back 1st downs. Mizzou played with speed and precision as they worked to hold their own against the heavily favored Tide. but after a Missouri false start and a burnt time out, the Tigers from the midwest ultimately fold under the Bama defense.
It could have been the subtle sounds of Mizzou’s cracking composure that did it, or the natural rhythm of the Tide’s rise, but Bama offense began to swell and the following possessions were a crescendo of highlights that were honestly just fun to watch.
Mac Jones launched a 46 yard pass to Waddle, who in a display of athleticism bordering artistic, pulls it out of the air under dual coverage. 3 plays later Jones has justs seconds of peace in the pocket before he’s bull rushed straight up the middle by the Mizzou defense. Mac gets flattened, but not before he delivers a perfectly timed 18-yard pass to Waddle in the endzone. Bama is up 14-0.
“I love getting hit." Mac said in post game commentary. There’s nothing better than getting hit and throwing the ball. It’s part of the game and kind of gives me a little energy.”
Well alright then.
“It was no surprise to me the way he played in this game," Head Coach Nick Saban said about his starting QB’s performance. “I think he’s got really good chemistry with Waddle and Smitty both. He managed the offense really well, he made lots of really good decisions and we just want to build on that.”
The depth of the offense became clear when play options led to big gains from unexpected places. Like a 22 yard pass to John Metchie III and a 34 yard pass to Miller Forristall for back to back 1st downs.
The Bama defense limited Missouri to two field goals through the first half, But composure began to slip in the 4th quarter. Shawn Robinson found Tyler Badie for a 54 yard touchdown pass and with 4 seconds left in the game the Tigers managed to squeeze in another touchdown after a 7 yd run from Connor Bazelak, bringing the final score to 38-19 Alabama.
“I feel like we have a very special defense. I wasn’t impressed with the way we played tonight. We played very well the first half, but that second half I feel like we need to finish. But it’s out first game so we just need to improve,” said senior Dylan Moses.
“I think from a team standpoint, when you play a first game you figure out who you are. You figure out where you are. And the last thing is, what do I have to do to improve and get better?” said Nick Saban. "I think every guy on our team has a lot of maturity in terms of what they need to do to get better, to play for 60 minutes in the game, to maintain their intensity and to execute a little better.
Next up, Alabama will face Texas A&M at home.