Alabama dominates Florida AtlanticBy Sean Landry | 09/16/2014 12:17am
By the time the lightning came and the game was called, the work had already been done. The Alabama football team shutout the Florida Atlantic Owls, winning 41-0 and recording over 600 yards of total offense despite the truncated finale.
“I was really proud of the way our players competed in the game today," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I thought we went out and improved some as a team. I think we played fast and I liked the intensity that we played with. I also think that there’s a lot of things that we did well, but also some mistakes that we made were critical.”
Saturday’s contest did little to quell the quarterback controversy, with both senior Blake Sims and junior Jake Coker recording over 200 yards passing, the first time in Alabama history two players reached that mark. In total, the Crimson Tide recorded 416 yards of passing offense, the second-highest single game total in school history.
“It was good that we got to play both quarterbacks in the game today,” Saban said. “Blake (Sims) played well except for one play. Jake (Coker) got some experience, and I think that experience should help his confidence and his ability to play with a little better rhythm. He did some very good things today as well.”
Sims had the higher completion percentage and yardage, going 11-13 for 214 yards and two touchdowns. The fifth-year senior started the game, scoring Alabama’s first touchdown of the game with a 7-yard run early in the 1st quarter.
“I’m very happy about the way things went,” Sims said. “The coaching staff did a good job with play calling and the players did very well executing the plays.”
Coker struggled to find the endzone, under center for two red zone possessions ending in a field goal and taking a sack on another drive as time expired at the end of the first half.
“I thought he did well in the second half,” Saban said of Coker. “We wanted to go out in the second half like we were playing any game, whether we were ahead or behind. We put a pretty good drive together and messed it up on the 2 yard line. We wanted to give both quarterbacks an opportunity to play and I thought Jake played just as well in the second half as he did in the first half. He played a little better as time went on. I’m sure nobody feels worse than him for missing the guy in the flats in the redzone wide open. He’ll definitely get better because of it.”
Coker blamed some of his struggles on his continuing unfamiliarity with the playbook.
“You just gotta put your time in, obviously,” Coker said. “The messups I had today were part of me not being really smooth, I guess. There’s a lot of things I’ve got to work on. I don’t think you can ever master any playbook but I feel a lot more comfortable than I did last month.”
The quarterbacks continued to use receiver Amari Cooper as their favored target. The junior totaled 189 yards on 13 catches, equalling the single-game record for receptions set by DJ Hall against Tennessee in 2007, and recorded his 4th consecutive game with over 100 yards receiving.
“It’s good because with [Cooper] out there you can’t just focus on the running game,” Sims said. “You also can’t forget about the other players we have because they can make plays just as well as he can. Congratulations to him on tying the record.”
Running back Kenyan Drake made his return to a prominent role in the Crimson Tide offense, leading the team with 7 carries for 25 yards and touchdown, the most possessions for the junior since a 49-0 victory over UT-Chattanooga last season. Drake also caught a screen pass that he ran for 39 yards and a touchdown to put Alabama up 21-0 with 1:48 left in the 1st quarter.
Defensively, Alabama recorded its 10th shutout in its last 40 games. The return of Trey DePriest lent stability to a defense that struggled against West Virginia in its season opener.
“I thought Trey DePriest played well in the game,” Saban said. “His leadership out there certainly helped our stability and making adjustments. We didn’t have nearly the mental errors that we had in the past, but there’s definitely quite a few things that we can continue to work on and continue to do better. I thought the players were more confidence and more poised today, and Trey’s presence probably had something to do with that.”
Eddie Jackson replaced Bradley Sylve as the starting cornerback, returning to the Alabama first team after a knee injury. Jackson recorded four tackles, including one for a loss.
“He looked phenomenal,” safety Landon Collins said. “That’s the Eddie that we know. That’s the Eddie that’s going to come out and hit somebody and that’s what he did today. He came to show everyone that he’s ready to play and that he’s back.”
Alabama will host Southern Mississippi next week at 5 p.m.