Top-ranked Alabama will host The Citadel on Saturday, Nov. 17, for an 11 a.m. CT kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide’s Week 12 home game against the Bulldogs will air on the SEC Network with Dave Neal, D.J. Shockley and Dawn Davenport on the call. Check out this 2-4-7 preview to get you ready for the 11th game on Alabama’s 2018 football schedule.
TWO STORYLINES TO MONITOR
1. Injury watch continues
Nearly every time we hear from Nick Saban lately, the head coach is providing injury updates. This week, the focus has once again centered around the quarterback position. Starter Tua Tagovailoa (knee) has practiced without any limitations, and when asked if he had considered resting the Heisman contender, Saban said that would send the wrong message to his team.
But against The Citadel (sorry, Bulldogs), Tagovailoa won’t be playing much. His backup, junior Jalen Hurts is still recovering from a minor procedure on his ankle during the bye week. Hurts tried to do more at Wednesday’s practice but once again appeared limited in his mobility.
Rounding out the injury report is redshirt sophomore left guard Deonte Brown, who is dealing with turf toe and did not participate in drills while reporters were allowed at practice. Brown did the least of the three players this week, and he will be questionable, at best, for Saturday.
“We’re giving him a few days. He’ll be day-to-day,” said Saban of Brown after Wednesday’s practice session. “But this kind of injury can really linger if you don’t give a guy a chance to heal up. So, we’re trying to use this opportunity and then we’ll evaluate him every day.”
2. Stopping the triple option
Alabama’s defense will face an unfamiliar test Saturday in The Citadel’s triple-option offense. It isn’t something the Tide sees much, or even in an entire season, making it a difficult scheme to prepare to defend. In order to do that, UA utilized a former high school quarterback on its roster as its scout-team signal caller this week in practice — freshman wide receiver Slade Bolden.
What kind of look did Bolden give his defensive teammates this week?
“It’s been really good,” Saban said. “He played a similar kind of offense in high school. I think that’s one of the most difficult things about playing against this. … Their guy, who has played the last two games, has rushed for a couple of hundred yards in each game. I mean, he really used to be a running back, so the guy is really a challenge. Slade’s a little bit like that. At least, I think we’re getting a decent picture on the perimeter.”
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. Mac Jones
With Tagovailoa not expected to play long and Hurts not expected to play, Jones will see the field early and most likely for the majority of the game. The redshirt freshman quarterback has attempted 13 passes this season, completing five of them for 123 yards and a touchdown. A game like this, on top of the injury issues, should allow Jones to run Alabama’s offense.
The quarterbacks of the defense will also play an important role, especially the second-team unit, which will probably be on the field quite a bit (sorry again, Citadel). The Crimson Tide doesn’t have much depth at inside linebacker behind Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses, so this will give McMillon and Benton — and possibly Ale Kaho and Jaylen Moody — invaluable reps.
Robinson has seen more than 60 carries (61) this season and turned them into 268 yards and a touchdown. He will be the back Alabama leans on in the second half. We could also see plenty of Ronnie Clark out of the backfield. Another name to watch is Jerome Ford, who has played in four games this season. If he steps on the field Saturday, he won’t be able to redshirt next fall.
4. Eyabi Anoma
Sticking with the defensive front, guys like Anoma and the other outside linebackers are tasked with setting the edge and reading their keys against a triple-option offense. Anoma has played in eight games this year and won’t be able to redshirt. But this game, the next-to-last home game for Alabama, could allow the former 5-star to gain more and more in-game experience.
SEVEN NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND
1. Alabama and The Citadel will meet for the first time in the history of the two programs this weekend. The Crimson Tide is 42-0-1 all-time against the Southern Conference. The Tide’s last meeting with a SoCon opponent was a 56-0 win over Mercer on Nov. 18, 2017, in Alabama’s final home game at Bryant-Denny Stadium that season. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 6-0 all-time against the Southern Conference, including a 5-0 mark with the Crimson Tide.
2. With its 24-0 win over Mississippi State on Nov. 10, Alabama has now won 24 consecutive games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, equaling the longest home winning streak in school history. The Crimson Tide won 24 in a row at home (Bryant-Denny and Legion Field combined) from Sept. 18, 1971, to Nov. 9, 1974.
3. Alabama’s 24-0 win over Mississippi State on Nov. 10 was the 51st for members of Alabama’s senior class. The group has posted a record of 51-3 (.944); has won two national championships and two Southeastern Conference championships, and has appeared in three College Football Playoff appearances. The 51 wins are tied for No. 2 in NCAA history with the Tide’s 2016 senior class (51-6, .895). Alabama’s 2017 senior class holds the NCAA record with a 53-5 mark (.914).
4. The Alabama defense has not allowed an offensive score in its last 152 minutes and 18 seconds of play, dating back to a second-quarter Tennessee touchdown pass on Oct. 20. The Tide has outscored Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State, 76-7, over that stretch with the lone opposing score coming on an interception return for a touchdown by the Volunteers in the third quarter of the Tide’s 58-21 win.
Alabama has recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time since consecutive 49-0 wins over Western Carolina and Auburn on Nov. 17 and Nov. 24, 2012. The back-to-back blankings of LSU and Mississippi State also mark the first time Alabama has shut out consecutive SEC opponents since 1980 when UA defeated Vanderbilt, 41-0, on Sept. 27 at Bryant-Denny Stadium and Kentucky, 45-0, on Oct. 4 at Legion Field.
5. The Alabama defense has proven to be just as dominant as the Crimson Tide offense in the first two quarters of play this season. The Tide defenders have limited the opposition to just 58 points (five touchdowns, three field goals) and 1,462 yards of offense (146.2 per game) in the first half in 2018. UA has outscored the opposition by 289 points (347-58) and outgained them by 2,042 yards (3,504-1,462) before the break this season.
6. With 216 total yards in the first two quarters against Mississippi State on Nov. 10, Alabama is now averaging 350.4 yards in total offense in the first half this season (3,504 yards in 10 games). UA has outscored the opposition by 289 points (347-58) and outgained them by 2,042 yards (3,504-1,462) before the break this season.
Through 10 games this season, Alabama is outscoring its opponents, 347-58 (34.7-5.8), in the first half. That total includes a 185-31 (18.5-3.1) first-quarter advantage and a 162-27 (16.2-2.7) difference in the second quarter. If Alabama had not scored a single point this season in the second half, the Crimson Tide would rank No. 30 nationally in points per game and total points scored. The Tide’s average first half average would rank fifth in the SEC in full game scoring offense. The 347 first-half points rank ahead of the full-game scoring totals of 99 Football Bowl Subdivision teams this season.
7. Tua Tagovailoa has 28 scoring tosses in 10 games this season, which is tied for second on the Alabama single-season touchdown list with AJ McCarron (2013) and Blake Sims (2014). McCarron is the UA leader with 30 in 2012. Tagovailoa is also responsible for 31 touchdowns this season (28 passing/three rushing). The total ties McCarron (31 in 2012) for third on the UA career touchdown responsibility list. Jalen Hurts holds the single-season record with 36 (23/13) in 2016. Tagovailoa is also eighth on the career touchdown responsibility list with 44 (39/5) in only 19 career games.
Contact Charlie Potter by 247Sports’ personal messaging or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).
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