Tua Tagovailoa Unstoppable as No. 1 Alabama Destroys Louisiana

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2018

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks to pass against the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tua Tagovailoa put together a flawless performance Saturday afternoon to lead the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to a 56-14 blowout victory over the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Bama's sophomore quarterback completed all eight of his pass attempts for 128 yards and two touchdowns against an overmatched UL Lafayette secondary. He added two carries for 12 yards before giving way to Jalen Hurts before halftime.

The victory moves Alabama to 5-0 and should keep the reigning national champions atop both the Associated Press and Amway Coaches polls for at least another week.

                  

Tagovailoa Keeps Heisman Hype Rolling With Perfect Passing Day

Tagovailoa could only do so much to help his Heisman Trophy case Saturday. Voters aren't going to weigh a September outing against one of FBS' worst teams heavily at season's end. But a surprisingly terrible performance could have hurt his chance.

The talented signal-caller avoided that outcome and did pretty much everything in his power to keep himself at the forefront of the early discussion about college football's top individual honor.

While Tagovailoa didn't face much pressure from the Cajuns' front seven, he continues to impress with his ability to stand tall in the pocket and deliver strikes. He only threw single-digit passes Saturday, but they were all crisp and on time, which allowed the Tide to pull away quickly.

The 20-year-old Hawaii native is going to face more difficult defenses over the next couple of months, namely those of the LSU Tigers and Auburn Tigers, and those games will have a much larger bearing on his Heisman hopes.

He should be considered the leader in the clubhouse for now, though.

                        

Hurts Remains Key to Tide After Shining in Relief Role

Although Alabama has continued to share time between its two quarterbacks, there's little doubt Tagovailoa will be under center in key moments, if healthy.

Those last two words are important. The Clemson Tigers saw new starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence leave their game against the Syracuse Orange on Saturday because of an injury less than a week after former starter Kelly Bryant announced his intention to transfer following his demotion.

That situation leaves the Clemson offense in a state of flux, which yields more props to Hurts for accepting his lesser role entering the 2018 campaign. He could have sought opportunities to leave the program for a team where he'd be a starter, but he stayed and could still prove vital before season's end.

He enjoyed a strong showing against Louisiana, completing four of his six passes for 118 yards, a score and no interceptions. It gives him five TDs and one pick on the season.

The Crimson Tide aerial attack isn't quite as dangerous when he's at the helm, but he's always limited mistakes and the team would remain a championship contender if he's forced back into the starting role.

It gives Hurts value that won't show up in every week's box score.

                     

Henry Ruggs III an Emerging Threat for Bama Offense

Ruggs didn't receive a ton of attention coming into the campaign with much of the focus on fellow wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith.

The sophomore continued to impress with five receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns against the Ragin' Cajuns. It marked his fourth straight game with a score and the second consecutive week he landed in the end zone from more than 50 yards out.

Those types of game-breaking plays always carry immense importance during the intense SEC schedule, which often sees low-scoring defensive battles. One long scoring play in that type of game could make the difference as Alabama attempts to hunt down a perfect regular season.

The likes of Jeudy and Smith have played well during the first month, too. So defenses won't be able to shift additional resources toward Ruggs, especially with Jaylen Waddle also on the rise. He should see plenty of one-on-one coverage, and all indications suggest that's a matchup he can consistently exploit.

                      

What's Next?

The Tide return to the more challenging SEC portion of the schedule next Saturday when they travel to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium for a road matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Louisiana is also away from home next week when it will attempt to break its three-game losing streak Saturday against the Texas State Bobcats in Sun Belt action at Bobcat Stadium.

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