Alabama Outraces LSU; DeVonta Smith Scores 3 Touchdowns
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- Alabama avenged last season's loss to eventual national champion LSU with a 55-17 win over the Tigers in Baton Rouge.
- Louisiana native DeVonta Smith had a career game in what was almost certainly his final matchup against LSU. The senior receiver caught 8 passes on 10 targets for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was just the second time in his career that he had multiple 60-plus-yard touchdowns in the same game, joining the LSU game from last season. The 231 yards are the second-most of his career and it's the third time he's scored at least times in a game.
- Coach Nick Saban returned to the sideline after missing the Iron Bowl last week due to a positive COVID-19 test.
- Redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones went 20 for 28 for 385 yards and four touchdowns. In addition to the three touchdowns to Smith, he threw another to sophomore tight end Jahleel Billingsley.
- The defense was mostly solid, limiting LSU to 17 points and 5 of 15 on third down, but gave up a 43-yard pass that resulted in a touchdown and a 54-yard touchdown run.
- Senior running back Najee Harris, who led the FBS with 17 rushing touchdowns entering this week, scored three more touchdowns, reaching that mark for the fourth time this year. His 145 yards were his third-highest total of the season.
Ebbs and flows
- DeVonta Smith: Of all the breathtaking plays Smith, the all-time SEC leader in receiving touchdowns, has made in his career, his third touchdown of the game might have been the best. The one-handed snag evoked memories of LSU alum Odell Beckham’s most famous catch in the NFL. He raced past the Tigers defensive backs on his two earlier touchdowns of 65 and 61 yards, and he grabbed the attention of an LSU safety on Billingsley’s touchdown, allowing the sophomore tight end to run wide open and find the end zone for the second straight game.
- Christian Harris: There were bright spots for the sophomore linebacker from Baton Rouge, but a roughing the passer penalty on third-and-9 wasn’t one of them. He also missed an opportunity to tackle LSU running back John Emery Jr. on his 54-yard touchdown run. He did have a sack and a tackle for loss, though.
- Will Anderson Jr.: A week after recording his first career sack, the freshman edge rusher racked up three more (one solo, two assisted). He also blew up the right tackle on fourth-and-short in the first quarter, forcing a turnover on downs.
- Daniel Wright: Wright failed to communicate a change to the play on LSU’s first touchdown (more on that below). He was also ejected from the game for targeting in the second quarter.
- Jahleel Billingsley: Billingsley set a new career high with four catches and scored for the second straight week. He caught a 14-yard pass on fourth-and-1 and two of his catches gained 24 and 27 yards.
Other big plays
- Defensive lineman Christian Barmore had a strip-sack of Tigers starting quarterback T.J. Finley.
- Dylan Moses, another Baton Rouge native, stuck with the running back he was covering and broke up a pass on a wheel route down the left sideline. It was one of the best plays of his season.
- Alex Leatherwood escorted an LSU defender several yards out of Harris’ way on the running back’s third touchdown.
- “We have a little group chat, and he just said, ‘300 yards and three touchdowns.’ I gave him his three touchdowns.” — Smith on former Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy’s challenge to him before the game
- “Umm… it was alright.” — Smith on his 231-yard, three-touchdown performance
- “To me, one-handed catches are not something that you can practice. It just happens. If you try to attempt and do a one-handed catch on purpose, it never works out right. So it’s just something that happens.” — Smith on his third touchdown, an eye-popping one-handed catch
- “The defense made some mental errors in the first half that led to both of their scores. … The first touchdown pass, we had a corner cat [blitz] called. They changed plays, so we kill plays, and the safety’s got to communicate to the corner, who goes on the blitz and now he’s not going on the blitz because we changed what we were doing. He went on the blitz and nobody covered the X [receiver], so it was a touchdown. And on the other one, the long run, we misaligned. The Star really lined up in the wrong spot, so we didn’t have an apex player on that side, so we had no force/contain and the ball bounced outside and there was nobody around.” — Saban on the mistakes the defense made on LSU’s two touchdown
- “We won the West today, which I’m very proud of them for their efforts all year long to be able to do that. So now we’ve got to talk about how we want to finish the season.” — Saban on Alabama clinching the SEC West and a spot in the SEC Championship Game against Florida on Dec. 19
- “They had a good game plan against us in the first half.” — Saban on LSU, which trailed 45-14 and had been outgained 469-236 at halftime
- “Everybody in the organization stepped up and did a really good job, and [we] really didn’t skip a beat today. Fortunately it was none of the signal-callers; that was very helpful. People did a good job filling in. … The electricity went off in the hotel today, like right when we were going to our religious service a half-hour before our pregame meal. We had to eat our pregame meal in the dark. It’s like, stuff happens. … Our players just stayed focused, and I think when you have good culture on your team and you’ve established that culture with your team, they can adapt and adjust to things that don’t go exactly like they expect them to.” — Saban on his team handling the adversity of missing four assistant coaches in the game, including WRs coach Holmon Wiggins, CBs coach Karl Scott and safeties coach Charles Kelly
- “I was really pleased. It’s funny: It was a really tough adaptation to stay home and do everything from home, and then I felt, actually, sort of out-of-place going back to work. It didn’t take long — about 15 minutes and I fit right back in. Ms. Terry wasn’t on me anymore and I was able to get on with the people in the office, so it was good.” — Saban on returning to the team after quarantining due to his positive COVID-19 test
- “It was just to come out there and play balls to the wall.” — Moses on the mentality entering this
- Smith is 49 yards from tying Amari Cooper’s school record of 3,463 career receiving yards
- Smith is one touchdown behind Cooper’s all-time school record of 16 receiving touchdowns in a single season
- Harris is 5 yards behind Bobby Humphrey (3,420) for the third-most rushing yards in school history
- Harris is two touchdowns behind Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram (42) for the most rushing touchdowns in school history
- Alabama (9-0) wraps up its regular season at Arkansas (3-6) next week. The Razorbacks lost a thrilling rivalry game against Missouri on Saturday, 50-48. They were ranked No. 49 in ESPN’s Football Power Index and in strength of record entering Saturday. Alabama was ranked No. 1 in both.