Alabama Steamrolls Utah State in Season Opener
Bryant-Denny Stadium played host to a beatdown on Saturday night.
The Alabama Crimson Tide opened the 2022 season as many expected it would, by dominating bell-to-bell. The 55-0 shutout preserved Alabama's season opener win streak, which has stood for more than two decades.
After an early 45-yard field goal from veteran Hoover native Will Reichard, the gates opened. Bryce Young's first of six total touchdowns came on a 5-yard strike to Jermaine Burton, who was making his first appearance as a member of the Crimson Tide. That was his first of two scores in the game.
"It's a blessing. I'm just happy to be in this program," said Burton, the Georgia transfer. "I love the players, I love this team, there's no other team I'd rather do this with... I love the way this team works, and to be able to contribute to this offense or team in any way is amazing to me."
Jase McClellan and Traeshon Holden also had two touchdowns receiving.
Young played until the third quarter, recording 195 passing yards and five passing touchdowns. He had an even 100 rushing yards and one rushing score. He was the game's leader in rush yards. He was unblemished in the interceptions category.
Jalen Milroe came in after Young and led a scoring drive, throwing one of McClellan's touchdowns for 17 yards. He was even, with one score and one pick. Ty Simpson saw playing time in the fourth quarter, completing one 10-yard pass.
Linebacker Jaylen Moody led the Crimson Tide in tackles with six. Two players had five: Brian Branch and Heisman hopeful Will Anderson Jr.
"It was special for me to get a chance to go out here and just show what I could do," said Moody. He said taking it one play at a time can lead to effectiveness in securing a shutout.
After the 17-point first quarter, the Crimson Tide accelerated with 24 in quarter number two. Almost all were courtesy of Young- nobody else rushed for a score in the entire game, and Milroe did not play the first half. Will Reichard hit from 33 in the quarter. Holden, Burton and McClellan all found the end zone before the break.
Young opened the third quarter scoring with his rushing score 90 seconds in. The Milroe-led drive resulted in the final score of the game.
"Just the role that everyone played, even when it's stuff that's away from the ball, even if the ball doesn't end up in their hands, everyone played a role in the offense... I'm super happy, I was excited with this new group," Young said.
"I just try to do whatever is best for the team," he added when speaking about his rushing performance. "For me, it's just taking what the defense gives me, that's definitely a big deal for us offensively."
The Aggies finally threatened at the very end of the game. They did not score after a fourth-down pass to the end zone was incomplete. Utah State did not cross midfield in the first half and had just 136 total yards, 57 passing.
The Crimson Tide offense maneuvered and scored at will, spreading the pigskin around and pushing through the Aggie front on the ground. It was clear that Utah State was overmatched.
Utah State had no answer for Alabama in any phase of the game. The Aggies defense was beat through the air and on the ground; the offense couldn't mount anything with consistent sustenance until long after the Crimson Tide starters left the game.
Alabama didn't break 60, but it kept the shutout.
"I was really pleased with the way the players approached this game," head coach Nick Saban said. "I thought we had good energy, I thought we had good intensity, we had good preparation throughout the week... it was a good team win, I thought the offense played well, the defense played well... Players need to understand the importance of sustaining the kind of intensity... so that we can improve as a team."
In a game which needs very little introduction, the next test for Alabama will be at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium against the Texas Longhorns. Fans across the nation have had this game on their calendar for a long time. It is set to be the biggest power-five nonconference game in the regular season since Florida State in 2017.