Next man up: Offense overcomes injuries to cruise past Kent State

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Tyler Waldrep

Alabama’s medical tent saw plenty of action Saturday in the Crimson Tide’s 48-0 victory over Kent State. The first visitor was Alabama’s lead running back Damien Harris.

Unfortunately for him, the tent wasn’t his last stop, and Harris gingerly hopped up on the cart to get his right leg looked at in the locker room. After the game, Alabama coach Nick Saban said Harris suffered an ankle sprain and would be day-to-day until he knows more.

Harris’ absence allowed freshman Joshua Jacobs to see plenty of action early on, and Jacobs made the most of his opportunities, finishing with 97 rushing yards on 11 carries for the first two scores of his career. He also caught a pair of passes for 23 additional yards.

“It’s bad when anyone goes down on our team regardless of the position, but you have to go to the next guy that’s up and tell him that we got his back and we’ll keep rolling,” center Bradley Bozeman said.

And roll it did. 

Alabama’s offense finished with 502 yards of total offense and a majority of that (285 to be exact) came on the ground. Running back B.J. Emmons carried the ball eight times to finish as the team’s third leading rusher (behind Jacobs and Hurts) with 51 yards.

Other visitors to the tent were not limited to running back Bo Scarbrough, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Everyone, with the exception of Harris, returned to the field after visiting the medical tent, though. Saban said he expects those to be available for next Saturday’s homecoming game against Kentucky. Harris and previously injured receivers, ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster, he is uncertain about.

With Stewart out, wide receiver Cam Sims received his first-career start and saw an extended role in Alabama’s passing game. Sims finished the day with a team-high four receptions and second on the team with 54 yards receiving behind only tight end O.J. Howard (60 yards and one touchdown). Both were career-highs for Sims.

“Cam’s a big guy that has great hands, great range as a ball catcher,” Saban said. “Certainly someone we feel like can be very productive for us. It was good to see him make some plays today, and I’m sure that’ll enhance his confidence in the future.”

Sims said the support of his teammates and coaches meant a lot to him. Before the game, Stewart approached Sims and encouraged his fellow “assassin.”

“[He said], ‘Let everything go, and just got out there because you can do it. I see you do it every day,’” Sims said.

Watching Stewart’s antics with the axe on the sideline motivated Sims. If Stewart could cheer for the team to do well while he was unable to play, then Sims could make sure he made the most of his time on the field.

Most of Sims’ receiving yards came on a single play when he turned around and hauled in a 31-yard pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts while keeping a foot in bounds. The reception set up Jacob’s first-career score.

The Crimson Tide offense scored on its first six possessions and eight of the team’s 11 drives that were uninterrupted by the end of the half. Howard said the Ole Miss game last week showed the team it needed to play with a lot of grit.

“I’d give us a B-plus as far as overall execution, but we need it at an A-plus every game,” Howard said.