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Alabama Football Surges Through Miami, 44-13

The top-ranked Crimson Tide offense totaled 501 yards and averaged 6.5 per play while the defense held the No. 14 Hurricanes to just 266 total yards.

ATLANTA — An offensive showcase combined with a stifling defensive effort surged No. 1 Alabama to a 44-13 victory over No. 14 Miami on Saturday at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

Any questions concerning the Crimson Tide's offensive efficiency heading into the 2021 season were seemingly answered, as Alabama finished the game with 501 yards. 354 of those yards came through the air, while 147 came on the ground.

On defense, the Crimson Tide was just as effective. Through four quarters, Alabama held Miami to 266 total yards and forced three turnovers. In defensive coordinator Pete Golding's third season with Alabama, his loaded roster impressed many on its first outing of the 2021 season.

"Got to give a lot of credit to Miami," Alabama coach Nick Saban said after the game. "I have a lot of respect for, you know, their players and their quarterback. You know, they got really good skilled players on offense. So I was really excited.

"And I'm sure that when we watch the film, we'll see a lot of things that are a lot -- way too many penalties. There's a lot of things that we can go through that we would like to get better."

In the first half for Alabama, its passing game turned the most heads on offense. Quarterback Bryce Young went 19-for-27 with 201 yards and three touchdowns in just the first 30 minutes. In the receiving department, wide receiver John Metchie III led the Crimson Tide in yards with 74 off of five catches — an average of 14.8 yards per reception. He also recorded a touchdown.

While he didn't lead Alabama in receiving yards in the first half, tight end Cameron Latu did lead the team in receiving touchdowns. With two receptions out of four targets, Latu scored on both of his catches in the first 30 minutes of the game. His first career reception was a 9-yard touchdown catch with 4:39 left on the clock in the first quarter. Just a few minutes later in the second quarter, Latu made his second career reception, this time a 25-yard touchdown grab.

After the game, Latu noted that he and Young developed a connection over the offseason which resulted in Saturday's display.

"I say we got good connection but it just all comes from the hard work that we do day in and day out," Latu said. "Everybody usually does, is a piece of that on the offense and just repetition. That's it."

No rushing touchdowns were recorded in the first half, but that didn't stop a talented rushing attack of the Crimson Tide from raking in yards. Redshirt-senior Brian Robinson Jr. led all Alabama carriers at halftime with 53 yards on 10 attempts.

Hurricanes quarterback D'Eriq King had a respectable first half, throwing 11-12 for 78 yards. However, Miami failed to register a touchdown either in the air or on the ground. 

At the halftime break, Alabama led Miami 27-3, with the Hurricanes' only points coming off of a 37-yard field goal to close out the first 30 minutes.

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At the start of the second half, Miami marched down the field with a 14-play, 74-yard drive to make it all the way down to the Alabama 1-yard line. On 4th and 1, King rushed up the middle, but was stopped by linebackers Henry To'oTo'o and Will Anderson Jr.

Aside from a touchdown — a 29-yard reception by wide receiver Xavier Restrepo — things didn't get much better for the Hurricanes in the second half. At the end of the afternoon, Alabama averaged 6.5 yards per play compared to Miami's 4.1 yards.

In total, Young finished the game completing 27-of-38 passes for 344 yards and four touchdowns. Both his yards and touchdowns are new Alabama program records for the most of each category in a debut start.

"I got a lot of confidence and a boost from my teammates on both sides of the ball," Young said. "Everybody just — I'm blessed to have the team that I have. And a lot of confidence came from enemy and the work we've put in. But I've just been focused on this game."

In rushing, Robinson finished the game with 12 rushes for 60 yards. However, redshirt-sophomore Trey Sanders was the only rusher of the game to finish with a rushing touchdown — a 20-yard scramble in the third quarter for the first score of his career.

In receiving, Jameson Williams led Alabama with the most receiving yards with 126 off of four receptions. Metchie led the Crimson Tide in receptions with six, while Latu's two touchdowns were the most of any pass-catcher.

On defense, Anderson led the Crimson Tide with nine total tackles. He also registered a sack. Linebacker Christian Harris led the team in tackles for loss with two. Defensive backs Malachi Moore and Jaylen Moody each tallied an interception.

For Miami, King finished the game completing 23-of-30 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. On the ground, he carried the ball nine times for 10 yards.

Under Saban, Alabama is now 15-0 in season openers dating back to 2007. The Crimson Tide will now travel back to Tuscaloosa to prepare for Game 2 on its schedule, a home opener in Bryant-Denny Stadium against Mercer.

"I was really proud of our players today in terms of the way they competed in the game today," Saban said. "I thought we came out and did a really good job on offense. Scored the first, you know, three or four possessions.

"Got some stops on defense. I think as the game went on, I think we got a little bit sloppy. Which is something that we can learn from."

Images courtesy of Alabama Athletics