Although Alabama never faced a serious challenge from Kent State in Saturday’s 48-0 blowout, the top-ranked Crimson Tide still limped out of Bryant-Denny Stadium to some degree.
Running back Damien Harris’ injured right leg will be the biggest source of concern among Tide fans after he left the game during Saturday’s opening drive. He was among a host of Alabama players -- including fellow running back Bo Scarbrough, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and cornerback Marlon Humphrey -- who missed time Saturday after leaving the field with injuries. They were already without receivers ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster, who missed Saturday’s game with knee injuries.
Scarbrough, Ridley and Humphrey all returned to the game, however. Alabama’s training staff carted Harris to the locker room for further examination shortly after he absorbed an awkward hit on his lower leg, and he did not return to the game.
Harris was just beginning to come into his own after rushing for 144 yards in last week’s comeback win over Ole Miss. He entered Saturday’s game ranked fourth in the SEC in rushing (327 yards), and his 9.1 yards per carry ranked third nationally among FBS players averaging at least 10 carries per game.
But even without the budding sophomore star, Alabama (4-0) still had more than enough to blast Kent State (1-3). Coach Nick Saban plugged in Joshua Jacobs once Harris went down, and the freshman proved to be an outstanding replacement.
He capped Alabama’s second and third possessions with touchdown runs and finished the afternoon with 11 carries for 97 yards and two scores, plus two catches for 23 more yards.
Freshman Jalen Hurts (16-for-24, 164 yards, one touchdown, plus 54 rushing yards and another score) was one of four Alabama quarterbacks to play, along with Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell, and one of the nation’s top defenses once again did its thing.
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s bunch surrendered just 166 yards and five first downs to the Golden Flashes. Alabama’s Xavian Marks added to the lead with a 75-yard punt return touchdown.
It was a solid all-around win for Saban against his alma mater, enabling him to empty his bench in the second half and move toward next Saturday’s SEC matchup against Kentucky without suffering any further concerning injuries.
Most of these ailments do not appear to be long-term concerns, but Alabama’s running back depth bears watching. Jacobs was highly impressive in his first extensive work, but Saban has to be worried about his running game if Harris and Scarbrough aren’t healthy.