TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- There was plenty of good moments to find from Alabama’s 63-14 thrashing of Southern Miss on Saturday.
A rundown of a few of them:
- Jameson Williams’ two record-setting kickoff returns for touchdowns
- Tight ends Jahleel Billingsley and Cameron Latu combining for 162 yards and three touchdowns.
- Roydell Williams topping 100 rushing yards with Jase McClellan close behind with 97.
- You can throw in the defensive effort, too. Alabama allowed just over 200 total yards, and Southern Miss rushed for just 82.
Sort of lost among the highlights was the performance of Bryce Young. The Alabama sophomore quarterback was 20 of 22 for 313 yards with five touchdowns. The touchdown mark is second in school history for most in a game, behind Tua Tagovailoa’s six against Ole Miss in 2019.
“Bryce does an outstanding job. He’s very instinctive, he understands what the defense is doing, he reads coverages well and he knows exactly where he wants to go with the ball,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
One of Young’s incompletions was intentional grounding and the other was an interception, his first of the season.
“The interception certainly wasn’t his fault,” Saban said. “The ball hit (Jameson Williams) right in the chest.”
Young appreciated Saban’s kind words, but still took responsibility for the pick.
“I was kind of disappointed in myself,” Young said. “We preach ball security and we never want to turn the ball over. That ball was behind. That’s something that’s pretty much inexcusable.”
Had Williams caught the ball, he likely would have scored a touchdown, and Young might have finished with six TDs on the night. After the play, Young flashed a smile.
“I was a little upset with myself so I tried to smile it off,” he said. “I feel like I could have made the catch a lot easier.”
Coming into Saturday, Young had just two completions of 40-plus yards and seven completions of 25-plus yards. With Tagovailoa and Mac Jones at quarterback in previous seasons, explosive plays were the norm. Young had made numerous attempts at big plays, but was off target.
The explosive plays came in bunches Saturday. Young hit on plays of 20 or more yards seven times, including an 81-yard touchdown strike to Williams.
“We pride ourselves on being an explosive offense. That’s something we strive to make our identity,” Young said. “It was good for us and I think it’s something we can build off of. We just want to execute the plays that are called. For the most part we did a relatively good job.”
Young was also poised in the pocket Saturday. Although he was sacked twice, Young avoided the pass rush for most of the game and found open receivers down field.
That’s nothing new. Young’s done that every game.
“It’s kind of reactionary,” Young said of avoiding defenders. “I try to keep my eyes down field, but it’s more of reaction more than anything else.”