The University of Alabama was heavily favored in their season-opener against West Virginia in Atlanta.
The Mountaineers put up a tougher fight than expected but it was the No. 2 Crimson Tide who prevailed with a 33-23 win.
"I really like the way the players competed in the game. ... There were a lot of good things. There's definitely a lot of things that we need to improve on. I think that's what you find out when you play a first game." said Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
Senior quarterback Blake Sims did not disappoint in his first career start. He played the entire game and completed 24-of-33 passes for 250 yards and had one interception.
Saban had suggested Sims and Jake Coker could both see time at quarterback leading up to Saturday's game. After the game, Saban said he only considered putting Coker in when Sims was "rattled" in the second quarter.
"I thought Blake did a really good job. He had a couple of guys open that he missed. But he also had a couple of guys that dropped balls that he delivered. All-in-all, for him to throw for 250 yards, he did a pretty good job executing," Saban said.
"We're looking forward to how we can help him improve, as well as Jake," Saban added.
The Crimson Tide (1-0) and WVU matched each other's scoring efforts for most of the first half.
Sophomore kicker Adam Griffith gave the Crimson Tide a 20-17 lead with a 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
UA's defense came alive in the second half and didn't allow the Mountaineers (0-1) more than a field goal on any drive.
"Defensively, we settled down and played a little bit better in the second half. The two big stops inside the 10-yardline was probably the difference in the game for us," Saban said.
Cyrus Jones and Landon Collins led UA with six tackles each. Xzavier Dixson finished with two sacks.
Sophomore running back Derrick Henry helped the Tide pull away when he sped across the goal line on a 19-yard-run. He finished with 117 yards on 17 carries.
Griffith accounted for the Tide's final two scores. He nailed field goals from 27 and 45 yards away
Junior running back T.J. Yeldon led the Tide with 126 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns
Junior wide receiver Amari Cooper caught 12 passes for 130 yards to lead the Tide.
The Crimson Tide return to Tuscaloosa for their home-opener on Saturday. They will play Florida Atlantic.
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