Editor’s note: Counting down to the start of Alabama football’s fall practice, SEC Country is taking a look at the Crimson Tide’s 2017 opponents.
Alabama vs. Fresno State
- When: Saturday, Sept. 9
- Kickoff time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
- TV: ESPN2
- Series: First meeting
Fresno State at a glance
- Coach: Jeff Tedford
- 2016 record: 1-11, 0-8 Mountain West
- Returning starters: 18
Fresno State players to watch
KeeSean Johnson | WR
Johnson is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign in 2016 as he earned All-Mountain West honorable mention honors after leading the team in receptions (66), receiving yards (773) and receiving touchdowns (6). Johnson finished third in the MWC in receptions per game (5.50), seventh in receiving yards and eighth in receiving yards per game (64.4) and tied for the team lead with Jamire Jordan in all-purpose yards with 1,049 adding 13 rushing yards, 227 yards on kickoff returns and 36 yards on punt returns.
Johnson caught at least one pass in each game last season and has caught at least one pass in 22 consecutive games dating to 2015. He posted single-game career bests for catches (10), receiving yards (142) and receiving touchdowns (3) against Air Force in 2016. He also became the first Bulldogs player to catch 3 touchdown passes in a game since current Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams did it against San Jose State on Nov. 29, 2013.
Aaron Mitchell | OL
Mitchell has started 24 consecutive games the last two seasons. As a junior in 2016, he started all 12 games with his first four starts coming at left guard and his final eight at center as he enters 2017 leading the team with the most consecutive starts (24) and owns the second-most career starts.
He helped pave the way for a rushing attack that gained 1,394 yards, led by starting running back Dontel James’ 697 yards. Fresno also produced 2,557 yards through the air while the starting line unit limited opponents to 2.58 sacks per game.
This is one of those games where you shake your head at the coach and/or athletic director for scheduling. This game won’t be competitive even for a half. Fresno State lost 10 consecutive games last season and was picked to finish next-to-last in its conference.
These types of contests are good for giving young players some reps. Maybe we’ll get an extended look at Najee Harris, Tua Tagovailoa or some of Alabama’s other freshmen.
Outside of that, fans should just hope the starters finish this one quick so no one is injured.
Alabama 34, Fresno State 3
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