Alabama coach Nick Saban is tired of the criticism sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts is receiving as the top-ranked Crimson Tide prepare to host Colorado State on Saturday. Hurts rushed for a career-best 154 yards in last Saturday’s victory over Fresno State, which was 26 more yards than his passing output.
Hurts is averaging nearly as many rushing yards per game (104.5) as passing (112) but all Saban cares about is the victory count. “I think different players play winning football in different ways,” Saban told reporters. “If you want to be critical of a guy for rushing for 154 yards and think he should not do that so he can pass more, then that’s up to you. You can do that if you want. But we did pass for 192 yards (as a team) and I think that’s the kind of balance that we want to create.” Colorado State scored just three points in a two-touchdown loss to Colorado on Sept. 1 in its toughest game so far but Saban is drumming up the notion that his squad can’t take the Rams lightly. “This is a good team, and it’s going to be a challenging game for us,” Saban said. “We need to play better on both sides of the ball.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Alabama -28.5
ABOUT COLORADO STATE (2-1): Senior quarterback Nick Stevens has passed for 985 yards and six touchdowns but also is prone to making errant throws and has been intercepted four times. Senior receiver Michael Gallup is a solid target with 26 receptions for 309 yards while senior Dalyn Dawkins (183 yards) and junior Izzy Matthews (153) split the ball-carrying duties. Junior middle linebacker Josh Watson (25 stops) is the leading tackler for a unit that already has seven interceptions after having just eight all last season.
ABOUT ALABAMA (2-0): Hurts is completing 66.7 percent of his passes and hasn’t been intercepted, but his most impressive stat is that gaudy 8.4 rushing average. Standout senior receiver Calvin Ridley (12 catches-127 yards) is 59 yards shy of becoming the fifth player in school history with 2,000 career receiving yards and is six receptions behind third-place Julio Jones (179 from 2008-10) on the program’s career receptions list. Junior free safety Ronnie Harrison has a team-best 13 tackles, while sophomore defensive end Raekwon Davis (eight tackles in last week’s win over Fresno State) is playing well after suffering a gunshot wound in late August.
1. Alabama registered a 31-6 win over Colorado State in 2013 in the lone previous meeting.
2. Crimson Tide sophomore RB Josh Jacobs (hamstring) is hopeful of playing for the first time this season.
3. Stevens is third in Rams’ history with 47 career touchdown passes, four behind second-place Moses Moreno (1994-97).
PREDICTION: Alabama 38, Colorado State 16