No. 1 Alabama looks to extend win streak vs. Mercer

NCAA Football

Despite the loss of some key contributors, Alabama’s offense looks to be in good shape with the pieces it does have this season.

Looking for a 16th consecutive victory, the top-ranked Crimson Tide should continue to roll when they host FCS foe Mercer on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

With 2020 stars Mac Jones, Najee Harris, Jaylen Waddle and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith now in the NFL, Alabama had some sizable holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball this season. However, it’s no surprise the Tide (1-0) looked strong while totaling 501 yards in last Saturday’s 44-13 win over then-No. 14 Miami in Atlanta.

Bryce Young did not disappoint in his much-anticipated first collegiate start, going 27-for-38 for 344 yards with four touchdown passes — most by an Alabama quarterback in his starting debut — and no interceptions. One of those touchdowns went to Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams, who caught four balls for 126 yards. Brian Robinson Jr., Harris’ backup in 2020, ran 12 times for 60 yards for Alabama, which last lost at then-No. 15 Auburn on Nov. 30, 2019.

“We’re kind of sure we can score points, whether it’s scoring touchdowns or getting some field goals, every time we get the ball,” said Alabama receiver John Metchie III, who caught six passes for 76 yards with a touchdown against Miami.

“I’m most excited for the potential of this offense. I think we have a limitless potential, and I’m excited to keep working.”

There’s no reason to believe the Tide will slow down this weekend as it kicks off play at Tuscaloosa looking for a 37th consecutive home victory over nonconference opponents. It’s unlikely how much Young and the rest of the Alabama starters will play in this matchup, considering it’s won the previous three meetings with Mercer — most recently 56-0 on Nov. 18, 2017.

“There’s a lot of lessons to be learned at every position on our team,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “In terms of some of the experience gained … It doesn’t matter what the position, I think there’s a lot of things we can improve on.

“It’s really important that our players have the right mindset between Week 1 and Week 2.”

Mercer (1-0), which last sported a winning season in 2016, rolled to a 69-0 victory over NAIA foe Point University last weekend. Tommy Pollack rushed for a career-high 111 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries as the Bears amassed a school-record 778 total yards.

Though Alabama linebacker Chris Allen, who recorded 13 tackles for loss in 2020, suffered a season-ending foot injury against Miami, its defense should still prove quite daunting for Mercer. However, Bears coach Drew Cronic understands just the chance to take on the reigning national champions and No. 1 team in the country is important for his program.

“It’s an opportunity to show you belong out there, to show that you can fight your guts out and compete,” Cronic said. “Whatever happens, we are going to get better.

“But I have never gone into a game thinking I was going to get beat. … It doesn’t matter who we play, I want us to be the best we can be.”

–Field Level Media

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