Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa followed up his career-best five touchdowns passes against South Carolina, a week ago, with another five touchdown passes and 293 yards in a 49-7 rout of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.
“They are one of, if not, the best offense in all of college football,” Golden Eagles head coach Jay Hopson said. “They have so much explosion and with that quarterback (Tagavailoa), when you watch film, he just does not make a bad throw. He is a special football player and so are their receivers.”
Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy stood out from Tagovailoa’s talented cast of receivers on Saturday combining for 10 catches, 244 yards, and two touchdowns.
“Give Alabama credit, they are an excellent football team,” Hopson said. “I have been coaching this game a long time and I do not know if I have ever seen an offense that has two Heisman trophy candidates (Tagovailoa and Jeudy). Give them credit. They made plays and guess what? That is what Heisman contenders do. They make plays.”
Ruggs was the leading receiver with only four catches for 148 yards and two touchdown catches of 74 and 45 yards, both in the first quarter. His video game like speed on those scoring plays electrified the crowd and it shut the door on the Golden Eagles’ hopes before the game really got started.
“Tua is great quarterback,” he said. “He puts the ball on the money and he has good timing with those guys (Ruggs and Jeudy). It is all about timing and you have to put your hands on them fast before the quarterback gets the ball out.”
For Golden Eagles players, having the chance to play in Bryant-Denny Stadium against a powerhouse like the Crimson Tide is a childhood dream turning into a reality.
“As a kid, you grow up and see Alabama and Clemson and they are the best of the best,” Golden Eagles running back De’Michael Harris said. “Beside playing in the NFL, it was a dream come true. It definitely was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The Golden Eagles have one of the toughest non-conference schedules, that included a trip, two weeks ago, to another SEC foe, Mississippi State.
“It is a really cool experience for us to play in these SEC stadiums,” Golden Eagles quarterback Jack Abraham said. “It is awesome and a great opportunity to go out there and put your product on the field.”
While Tagovailoa torched the Golden Eagles through the air, it was running back Najee Harris found his groove on the ground with 14 carries and 110 yards. It was only the second time in his career that he went over the century mark rushing the ball.
“I could sit here for three hours and talk about how outstanding of a team Alabama is,” Hopson said. “Anybody that has sense and knows football will tell you that. To tell you that I’m not proud of my team for the way they fought today would be the biggest lie.”