No. 1 Alabama ready for SEC opener vs. Ole Miss

No. 1 Alabama has cruised to a 2-0 start but, as coach Nick Saban said Monday, “The real season is really starting now.”

The Tide opens SEC play at Ole Miss (2-0) on Saturday. The Rebels have scored 123 points in beating Texas Tech (47-27) and Southern Illinois (76-41) to open the season.

Alabama, meanwhile, can score a whole bunch of points, too. There has been a peaceful resolution to the quarterback competition, with sophomore Tua Tagovailoa playing great in starts vs. Louisville and Arkansas State.

He completed 13 of 19 passes (68.4 percent) for 228 yards and four touchdowns, without an interception, last week against Arkansas State. His 238.7 passer rating edged last week’s 235.4 for the seventh-best performance of the Nick Saban era, and fourth best against a FBS opponent.

Ole Miss coach Matt Luke was asked what impressed him about Tagovailoa.

“The ability for a young quarterback and the decision-making,” he said.

“They ask him to do some RPO stuff where he has to make some decisions. He’s got a really quick release. He has very good receivers to throw it to. Then, his ability to extend plays.

“You watch their first touchdown against Louisville. He extended the play and made a play with his feet. He keeps drives going on third down by scrambling out of the pocket. His ability to extend plays and obviously his decision-making has been good.”

Speaking of third downs … Tagovailoa has been at his best when it has mattered the most.

On third-down plays, he has completed 10 of 10 passes for 207 yards, with four touchdowns and eight first downs. If you converted that to a college passer rating, that would be 405.88.

“I think he sees things really well,” Saban said. “He does a nice job keeping his eyes down field, stepping up in the pocket. He’s well-prepared and he’s also very instinctive.”

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