By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Bryce Young was flinging the ball around and his receivers were delivering big plays, just like during his Heisman Trophy run.
Young passed for a season-high 385 yards and four touchdowns and No. 2 Alabama beat Vanderbilt 55-3 Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
It was the first 300-yard game of the season for the reigning Heisman winner, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter yet still completed 25 of 36 passes. It also was a different cast of characters for a Tide offense that lost its top three receivers, with two more injured, and had felt their absence in the first few games.
“It definitely felt good to get some big plays, get some chunk plays,” Young said. “We pride ourselves in being an explosive offense.”
The Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0) opted to air it out against the Commodores (3-2, 0-1) and finally got big games and plays from multiple receivers. It was the most passing yards for Young since perhaps locking up the Heisman with 421 yards against Georgia in the SEC championship game.
“I think it was kind of our plan going into this game that we would spread these guys out more and try to attack them in the secondary,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We thought we had some pretty good matchups.”
Alabama outgained Vandy 628-129 in total yards.
Ja’Corey Brooks had a career night, all in the first half when he had six catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
“He was getting open and making my job easy,” Young said.
Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton had his biggest game for the Tide: 94 yards on four catches, including a 48-yarder.
Jahmyr Gibbs, who started the first three games at tailback, mostly lined up at receiver while Jase McClellan took over in the backfield. McClellan ran for 78 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Gibbs caught three passes for 43 yards and a score.
Vanderbilt freshman AJ Swann completed 13 of 26 passes for 115 yards in his second start after throwing for 255 yards and four touchdowns against Northern Illinois.
“I felt like they came out and played to their potential, and did a nice job in the execution of their plan and were able to put distance between us and them early,” Vanderbil coach Clark Lea said. “We weren’t able to ever really apply pressure.”
Vanderbilt: Avoided a third straight shutout in the series after losing the last two meetings by a combined 93-0. It’s still the Commodores’ 23rd consecutive loss to the Tide and 22nd straight defeat against SEC teams.
Alabama: Gave future opponents, including three teams in a row who were ranked this week, something to think about with the downfield passing and lining up Gibbs as a receiver with such frequency. Linebacker Will Anderson Jr. had 2 1/2 sacks. Defensive lineman Byron Young left with a sprained ankle.
BROOKS’ BIG NIGHT
Brooks was mostly known for his tying touchdown in the final seconds against Auburn to force overtime last season. This was by far his biggest overall game. The sophomore had four catches for 62 yards through three games. Brooks caught passes on four consecutive plays for 68 yards and a TD on one drive.
It’s not out of the question that Alabama could return to the No. 1 spot — or at least close the gap — after Georgia struggled in a 39-22 win over Kent State. Saban, incidentally, is a Kent State alum.
Vandy went for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 34 early in the second quarter and didn’t get it. The Tide scored on the next play to make it 21-3.
“I’m going to bet on my team,” Lea said. “That’s a part of our identity. We’re playing to win the game.”
Vanderbilt: Has a Saturday off before facing No. 16 Mississippi on Oct. 8.
Alabama: Visits No. 10 Arkansas to start a three-game stretch of facing ranked teams.
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