Fast start paces Bama

Tide dominates FAU after Owls player says his team has edge in speed

Updated: September 22, 2012, 10:02 PM ET
By Alex Scarborough | TideNation

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It seemed like a good thing to say at the time. The microphone was on. The tape was rolling.

"They ain't what people think," Florida Atlantic's Cory Henry said of Alabama earlier in the week. "They're good and everything, but they can [be] beat."

That was forgivable. The junior defensive end couldn't very well lay down and hand Alabama the win.

Then he got technical. Then he tried to find an advantage.

"We got speed against them," he told the Palm Beach Post. "You got speed, you can win."

[+] EnlargeAJ McCarron
AP Photo/ Butch DillAJ McCarron and Alabama's offense picked apart Florida Atlantic.
It didn't take long to see that neither one of those things were true when the two teams met Saturday. On just the third play of the game, Alabama wideout Kenny Bell caught a pass over the middle and showed what real speed can do, blowing past the Florida Atlantic defense for an 85-yard touchdown.

By the time it was all said and done, it was the Owls looking for a higher gear as No. 1 Alabama burned Florida Atlantic, winning 40-7 to improve to 4-0 on the year.

"They played really well; we just started slow," said FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert. "It was just tough to get things going in the first half and we just did a terrible job coming out. We didn't have a lot of energy."

The Alabama offense ran circles around Florida Atlantic, turning short passes into long gains. Four receivers averaged more than 15 yards per catch. Bell's 85-yard scamper to the end zone did plenty to boost that number.

"Kenny got open, I gave him the ball and he did the rest," said Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. "He made a guy miss and outran the rest."

Said Bell: "I felt like it was time for me to make a big play and get the offense going. When AJ saw me, he threw a good pass to me and I just had to use my legs to get the touchdown."

Alabama amassed 503 yards of offense, averaging 6.9 yards per play. The Tide got out to a quick start, scoring on seven consecutive drives to start the game.

The Crimson Tide were equally explosive on defense. The Owls mustered just six first downs and 34 yards passing. Alabama had three sacks and eight tackles that went for a loss or no gain.

"That's a great defense that we faced, I mean, I don't know if it was a slow start or if it was a fast start for them defensively," FAU coach Carl Pelini said. "They're a very good defensive football team and they were just physically handling us up front early in the game."

In truth, the FAU offense didn't have much of an opportunity to showcase its speed. For a time, it seemed like nose guard Jesse Williams and the rest of the Alabama defense had set up shop in the backfield.

"After a while, we were camped back there most of the time," Williams said.

Williams, who has plenty of speed to match his 320-pound frame, said the defense isn't up to pace yet, but they're getting there.

"We have a lot of hard-working guys," he said. "Everyone wants to make tackles, sacks and everything. Once the ball is released, we're trying to do everything we can to get to it."

FAU tight end Alex DeLeon said his offense needed to be quicker. The Owls didn't get a single first down in the first half and finished the game with just one play of more than 10 yards.

"They were as good as advertised," DeLeon said. "They are a disciplined group. But on our side, we need to pick it up quicker. We need a quicker start."

According to Williams, the only thing Alabama is doing slowly is improving.

"We're not really up to pace yet," Williams said. "I feel like we're getting better week by week. We're slowly improving."

Alex Scarborough | email

Alabama/SEC reporter