September 10, 2017 1:17:13 AM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Jalen Hurts set the tone for the Alabama football team early in the week and again to start the game.
Top-ranked Alabama needed to play better Saturday against Fresno State, he told his teammates. Hurts took care of his part of the bargain, rushing for 154 yards and two touchdowns and passing for a third score in a 41-10 victory Saturday.
"He made it known to all of us right from the get-go that, 'Hey guys, we've got to play better this week,' " tight end Hale Hentges said. "And we did."
Hurts sparked the Crimson Tide with a 55-yard touchdown run two plays into the game.
Alabama (2-0) polished off 44-point underdog Fresno State (1-1) with a workmanlike performance on the heels of a hard-hitting opening victory against No. 10 Florida State in Atlanta.
Hurts completed 14 of 18 passes for 128 yards, but his biggest play came in the opening minute. He kept on a zone read and sprinted for a touchdown, stepping out of a last-gasp tackle attempt at the 15.
Hurts also hit a wide-open Hentges for a 23-yarder in the first quarter. It was the tight end's first career touchdown.
"I thought we did a good job of executing the game plan, came out and played hard and did a way better job of executing," Hurts said.
Alabama led 28-3 at halftime against Fresno State, which opened coach Jeff Tedford's first season with a 66-0 victory against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Incarnate Word.
"They're very big, very physical, very fast," Tedford said. "You try to contain the weapons on the field and the quarterback will get you. He ran all over us."
Fresno State scored on Chason Virgil's 26-yard pass to Derrion Grim with a little more than six minutes left. That was set up by Da'Mari Scott's 63-yard kick return
Alabama outrushed Fresno State 305-58.
"I think everybody needs to know that we're not interested in sliding backward," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We need to move forward in terms of what we need to do to continue to try to improve and become a better team."
Fresno State: The Bulldogs moved at times against the Crimson Tide, but they couldn't reach the end zone until late. Virgil was 21-for-34 for 180 yards with an interception. They also held Alabama to two short field goals in the second half, including once after the Crimson Tide started inside the 5-yard line after an interception.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide won their 16th-consecutive home opener. Saban stretched his streak in that category to 17. Top tailbacks Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris had only six carries apiece.
The game gave Alabama a chance to get significant playing for freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and fellow five-star signee tailback Najee Harris. Tagovailoa was 6-for-9 for 64 yards in his college debut with a 16-yard touchdown pass to another highly touted freshman, Henry Ruggs III. Najee Harris ran for 70 yards on 13 carries.
Alabama had four of its top linebackers on the sidelines with injuries, with Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis out for the season. Former walk-on Jamey Mosley, younger brother of Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, and Keith Holcombe made their first career starts.
"We have a lot of work to do at that position," Saban said, adding that the game experience will help in that regard.
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