Alabama players drew their coach’s ire early in the week because of what he perceived as a lack of focus.
Seems that his message was received, although it took a few possessions and a big play from the special teams before the Crimson Tide found their footing against Mercer on Saturday.
The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide came out and methodically dominated the Bears on the way to a 48-14 victory in Tuscaloosa in a tuneup for a showdown against 13th-ranked Florida next week.
Chris Braswell’s blocked punt in the first quarter and Jase McLellan’s 33-yard scoop-and-score got Alabama (2-0) revved up after a pedestrian start.
Once the Tide jumped in front, the offense got comfortable and produced points on eight of the next nine possessions — two first-quarter touchdowns and 17 points in the second quarter on the way to a 31-0 halftime cushion.
Meanwhile, the Alabama defense was suffocating. Mercer (1-1) managed only 35 yards in the first 30 minutes and none of the Bears’ eight possessions lasted more than four plays.
Mercer finished with 216 total yards, with four pass plays accounting for 127 of that total.
The futility let up briefly in the third quarter when Fred Payton dropped a 60-yard pass into Devron Harper’s hands to end the shutout bid.
By then, the work day was over for most of Alabama’s starters. Bryce Young was efficient throwing the ball, hitting 19-of-27 passes for 227 yards — 175 in the third quarter — and three touchdowns. Jojo Earle paced a busy and diverse day for the receiving corps with seven catches for 85 yards and added a pair of return yards that covered 45 yards.
Chunk plays helped the Tide: Nine pass plays covered 16 yards or more and added up to 218 yards of their 424 total.
Bears quarterback Fred Payton passed for 159 yards and two scores. Harper’s two catches for 69 yards led the way and Fred Davis ran for 47 yards.
Mercer continued to find success after halftime and churned out 181 yards. But the Alabama lead was too big by then.
–Field Level Media