No Week 2 letdown for Alabama this season.
The 57-7 whipping of Arkansas State started early -- aside from a few special teams misfires -- on a strong afternoon for both Alabama quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts combined to throw six touchdown passes on a scorching afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The 599 offensive yards for Alabama were fairly evenly distributed with 321 passing and 278 rushing. And defensively, Alabama held the hurry-up Arkansas State attack in check until allowing a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter.
The crowd of 100,495 had mostly left by the time Najee Harris wrapped up his 13-carry, 135-yard afternoon with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
The first drive looked effortless. After three Damien Harris runs, Tagovailoa hit Jerry Jeudy on a slant. A missed tackle and an absent safety turned the play into a walk-in touchdown, 58 yards less than two minutes into the game. It took just two plays on the following drive to make it 13-0. Again, a slant. This one to Henry Ruggs III went 31 yards just 3:30 into the game. After two possessions, he had two touchdown passes in as many throws and a quarterback rating of 401.9.
Tagovailoa got away with one on the play before the second score. ASU defender Jeremy Smith was dropping in coverage and should have intercepted a pass that hit him in the hands. Another relative moment of concern followed the second and third scores. For the second and third times this young season, new kicker Austin Jones missed an extra point. Both clocked the upright and a few boos could be heard in the stadium.
Jalen Hurts entered the game late in the quarter and completed his first pass -- a 20-yarder on the run to Ruggs.
Alabama closed the quarter up 19-0 with a 245-64 yardage advantage.
Key play: The second touchdown pass Tagovailoa threw showed confidence throwing across the middle a play after almost getting intercepted.
Key player: Hard to go with anyone other than Tagovailoa after going 6-for-10 with 175 yards and three touchdowns.
The special teams adventure continued on a muffed punt from Jaylen Waddle that was recovered by DeVonta Smith. Hurts then turned in a strong drive after fumbling at the goal line to end the previous on. The Tide went 63 yards in seven plays including a 30-yard pass to DeVonta Smith and a 10-yard touchdown strike to Irv Smith Jr. Joseph Bulovas entered for the extra point and a 26-0 lead.
Hurts threw his second touchdown pass while getting drilled later in the quarter. That seven-yarder to Jerry Jeudy made it 33-0 as the two quarterbacks combined for five touchdown passes in a quarter and a half.
The defense got involved with Alabama's third non-offensive touchdown of the season. JUCO transfer cornerback Saivion Smith plucked a Justice Hansen pass and ran it 38 yards for the 40-0 edge. The Red Wolves put together an impressive 56-yard drive that ultimately stalled at the Alabama 19 on a fourth-down pass Xavier McKinney almost intercepted.
Key play: The 10-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to Irv Smith Jr. was an impressive throw into a crowded space.
Key player: Hurts played very well outside of the fumble. He went 6-for-7 with 85 yards and two touchdowns on difficult passes.
Alabama's defense came out a little flat after halftime in a half-empty stadium. Arkansas State cruised 75 yards on eight plays to end the shutout with a 23-yard pass to Kendri Edwards.
There was positive news on the special teams front in the following Alabama drive. Joseph Bulovas, who entered at kicker after the two missed extra points, drilled a 39-yard field goal to the cheers of those remaining.
The passing game was dialed back from there as Alabama looked to run the ball mostly with a few short throws sprinkled in. Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris got some serious touches with Damien Harris getting a rest after running 12 times for 61 yards. Tagovailoa added a fourth touchdown pass to Derek Kief on a play he stepped up under pressure and delivered a ball to a tip-toeing receiver. It put Alabama ahead 50-7.
Key play: The Bulovas field goal likely calmed some nerves after an inconsistent start to the season in the kicking game. It hasn't mattered for the outcome yet.
Key player: Najee Harris made his case for more carries by ending the third quarter with nine carries and 91 yards. He had runs of nine and 11 yards on the 15-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that took 7:01 off the clock.
Najee Harris punctuated his first 100-yard game with a big final series. Before scoring the one-yard touchdown, he pulled off a clean hurdle on a 23-yard run early in the nine-play 75-yard scoring drive. He also hit a 19-yaer to set up the score that put Alabama up 50.
It was up to the reserve defense after that with freshmen Ale Kaho, Eyabi Anoma and Patrick Surtain II getting significant time.
And the defense came up with a goal-line stand of sorts after Arkansas State marched down to the Tide 1-yard line. Two consecutive false starts pushed the Red Wolves back to the 11 where a 28-yard field goal hit the upright. Another drive went inside the Alabama 15 before a turnover on downs preserved the 57-7 final score.
Key play: That hurdle was impressive.
Key player: It has to be Najee Harris after hitting a few big plays with power and speed.