Season-long kicking woes hurt Alabama early in national title game against Clemson

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The first quarter of Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship game was defined by scoring, explosive plays and two notable mistakes, both from Alabama.

Kicking has been a season-long problem for Alabama  coach Nick Saban. His team missed its ninth extra point early in the national title game against Clemson.

The first was a pick-six tossed by sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on the Crimson Tide’s first possession, feeding the Tigers an early 7-0 lead.

The second was the sort of physical mistake that leads Alabama coach Nick Saban to toss headsets in frustration. After the team’s second touchdown drive, Alabama kicker Joseph Bulovas missed an extra-point try to keep the Tigers’ lead at 14-13.

It’s not a new mistake for Alabama. The Tide have been miserable on kicks all season, both field goals and extra-point tries. The miss was the team’s ninth on the season, a shockingly high number for a team that seems otherwise flawless.

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Bulovas would make up for his miss by making a 25-yard field goal early in the second quarter to push Alabama ahead 16-14. That Alabama went for a fourth-down try near the goal line earlier on that same tells the story, however: Saban doesn’t want to rely on his kicker to win another national title. Given the power of these two offenses, there’s no doubt field goals won’t mean the difference.

He’s onto something. Bulovas would follow his field goal by putting his ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving Clemson a short field from its own 35-yard line.

Predictably, Saban was waiting on the sideline. Bulovas got an earful.






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