No. 12 Alabama Shuts Out Louisiana-Monroe
Eight years after its most shocking defeat in recent memory, Alabama finally evened the score.
But it hardly came as emphatically as one might have expected, at least not until late.
No. 12 Alabama, in a rematch of its 21-14 home defeat in 2007, beat Louisiana-Monroe, 34-0, at home in a game in which the Crimson Tide didn’t pull away until the latter part of the third quarter.
“I thought offensively, we stopped ourselves way too many times,” coach Nick Saban said.
The Crimson Tide (3-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) started slowly against the 38-point underdogs, a recurring problem through four games this season. While Alabama held a comfortable 14-0 lead at the half, it came accompanied by another inconsistent performance offensively.
Jake Coker made the start at quarterback for Alabama, his third in four games this season. He completed 17-of-31 passes for 158 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Cooper Bateman, who Coker had been splitting time with at quarterback through the first three games, didn’t line up behind center until the Crimson Tide’s final drive with 4:45 left. Bateman received the start last week against Ole Miss but was relieved by Coker near the end of the first half and did not return.
“I think it helps when we go no-huddle and the other team gets a little tired,” said Saban, who noted five dropped passes by Alabama receivers in the game. “They don’t play quite as aggressively and that is always helpful but I am just pleased with the way Jake played today in both halves.”
In the end, Alabama got its meaningful reps ahead of next Saturday’s showdown on the road at Georgia. In the Crimson Tide’s last trip to Athens in 2008, it famously dominated Georgia, 41-30, in the “Blackout” game.
Alabama took a firmer control of the game in the second half, when the Crimson Tide scored 20 points across four drives to push its lead to 34-0. An Alphonse Taylor false start on fourth-and-1 on the ULM 18 and freshman wideout Calvin Ridley’s dropped pass in the end zone forced Alabama to settle for two Adam Griffith field goals from 40 and 35 yards out, respectively.
The Crimson Tide defense, which was stout through all four quarters, held the Warhawks to just 92 yards of total offense, including just nine yards rushing, and no first downs until a pass on a fake punt with 6:25 to go in the half.
As a unit, the Alabama defense had six sacks, two interceptions and pitched its 15th shutout under Saban.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement on defense, and I think that’s what we did,” said linebacker Denzel Devall, who had a sack in the first quarter, his first of the season. “We just went out there and established our identity, and I felt that we did a great job today.”
In its last trip to Tuscaloosa in 2007, the Warhawks broke a 14-14 halftime score to upset Alabama, the only time the Crimson Tide has lost to an unranked opponent at home during the Saban era.
Louisiana-Monroe fell 51-14 in its home opener against the Bulldogs earlier this season.
Derrick Henry, who dealt with an illness earlier in the week, had 52 yards and a score on 13 carries. Kenyan Drake was the game’s leading rusher with 65 yards on 10 carries.
Coker found Ridley for a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter, then added two more to his name with scoring passes to Michael Nysewander and ArDarius Stewart in the second half.