Football nearly flawless in 55-point shutout of Utah State

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CW / David Gray

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) takes off on a 63-yard run in the Crimson Tide’s 55-0 victory over the Utah State Aggies on Sept. 3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Austin Hannon | @austin_hannon1, Sports Editor

When expectations are as high as they are in Tuscaloosa, it can be hard to live up to them. 

Not for the Alabama Crimson Tide, who emphatically proved their No. 1 preseason ranking in a 55-0 thrashing of the Utah State Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night. 

In a precursor to next week’s game at Texas, Alabama (1-0) dominated on both sides of the ball from start to finish in its first home season-opener in 11 years. 

“I was really pleased with how the players approached this game,” head coach Nick Saban said. “We missed some things that we need to clean up … but it was a good team win. No disrespect to Utah State, but we’re going to play teams more physical and talented than them.” 

Quarterback Bryce Young began his 2022-23 Heisman campaign, totaling six touchdowns in just over two quarters of game action. Young went 18-for-28 with 195 yards through the air, while also rushing for 100 yards. His highlight of the night was a 63-yard scamper through the Aggies’ defense. 

“It’s fun being in the open field,” Young said. “I definitely enjoyed it.” 

The Crimson Tide newcomers were a huge storyline as well on Saturday night. Freshman wide receiver Kobe Prentice made his first college start on Saturday night and introduced himself to the Alabama faithful to the tune of five catches for 60 yards. Georgia Tech transfer running back Jahmyr Gibbs picked up 93 yards on nine carries, including a 58-yard run through the Utah State secondary. Georgia transfer wide receiver Jermaine Burton, who had eight total touchdowns in two seasons with the Bulldogs, caught five passes — and two of them were touchdowns. 

“There’s no other team I’d rather do this with,” Burton said. “I love the way this team works. To be able to contribute in any way for this team is amazing.” 

Young is a fan of his new slot receiver. 

“I think he’s [Prentice] been someone who’s very dynamic, versatile,” Young said. “He shows up to work every single day with all the energy in the world.” 

While not necessarily a brand-new player, wide receiver Traeshon Holden had five catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start. 

After a disappointing season-ending injury in 2021-22, running back Jase McClellan made his return to the field and scored twice. 

“I thought Jase [McClellan] did some really good things in the game,” Saban said. “He’s certainly come back from his injury really, really well.” 

The Crimson Tide defense was as good as advertised on Saturday night, holding the Aggies to just 136 total yards. However, with linebackers Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner chasing the quarterbacks, Alabama had little success at actually getting to them. The Crimson Tide didn’t record a single sack on the night. 

However, this isn’t to say the defense didn’t perform, because it most certainly did. 

Linebacker Jaylen Moody led the way on defense, picking up a team-high six tackles, including a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. After entering his name in the transfer portal, Moody returns as a starter in his final year in Tuscaloosa. 

“It was a special moment,” Moody said. “Getting a chance to just come out here and play. I’ve been waiting a long time [for it].” 

Last season, the Aggies had 11 wins including a bowl victory. It seems as if Utah State may not repeat that performance this year. After struggling to take down a bottom-dwelling UConn team last weekend, the Aggies were not close to prepared for Alabama.  

Utah State racked up the laundry, committing 11 penalties for 110 yards. An Aggies offense that was considered dangerous entering the week reached the red zone just one time. Sixth year quarterback Logan Bonner didn’t even make it out of the first half for Utah State, going 3-for-9 with a meager 39 passing yards. While the Crimson Tide averaged 7.8 yards per play, the Aggies picked up just 2.3 yards per snap. 

Next up on the schedule for Alabama is the Texas Longhorns. One of the most highly anticipated matchups in years takes place in Austin, Texas, next weekend. Texas (1-0) is coming off a 52-10 win over UL-Monroe on Saturday night. 

“Obviously, we have a lot of respect for their program,” Young said. “We know it’s going to take everything.” 

Kickoff from DKR Texas Memorial Stadium is set for Saturday, Sept. 10 at 11 a.m. CT on FOX.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]