Tide Offense Displays Quick-Strike Ability Against Aggies
The 2020 version of Alabama’s offense might have a few false starts here and there — five, to be exact, through two games. It might throw in a careless delay of game or illegal shift foul, too, or misfire on a deep pass, leading to third-and-long.
But in Saturday’s 52-24 win over Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide’s offense proved once again that it’s always only one play away from getting out of a jam.
It began from the first drive, when quarterback Mac Jones connected with sophomore wide receiver John Metchie III for a 78-yard touchdown on third-and-8. The two hooked up again on the next drive for a 35-yard gain on third-and-9, and the third-down success continued four plays later when senior running back Najee Harris scored from 6 yards out to give Alabama a 14-0 lead.
Metchie added a second touchdown, a 63-yarder, in the fourth quarter, and finished the game with 5 catches for 181 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career. On the third play of the second half, Jones overthrew him on another deep route that could have added 75 yards and another score to his total.
"I told y'all about [Metchie's] sneaky speed," junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle said with a smile. "He got to showcase that today."
After the early third-and-longs, the Crimson Tide dug itself into another hole early in the third quarter with a holding foul followed by an illegal shift followed by a false start. Facing second-and-22 from his own 13-yard line, Jones reared back and heaved a deep pass to Waddle, who immediately erased every memory of the three penalties with an 87-yard touchdown.
“We’re going to do everything we possibly can to eliminate those penalties,” coach Nick Saban said. “That’s very disappointing, and it’s something that we need to fix, especially the pre-snap penalties. I mean, there’s no excuse for it. That’s a total lack of focus. The fact that we make big plays and convert some of those situations — when you play really good teams, you’re not always going to be able to do that.”
Jones completed his first seven passes for 173 yards and the deep touchdown to Metchie. In addition to the on-target throws down the sideline to Metchie, he had two nice, over-the-shoulder touch passes to Waddle and fifth-year senior tight end Miller Forristall.
He missed on his next three passes, though, including one that was batted into the air and intercepted by A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, who returned it 43 yards into Alabama territory.
The offense steadied itself after that, scoring on its next two drives. The first was a 2-yard run by Harris, who set it up by jumping to catch a pass from Jones on a wheel route. The touchdown was his fifth of the season.
The second was a 50-50 ball to senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith in the back of the end zone to close out the first half. After the three straight incompletions, Jones went 9 of 10 for 100 yards and the touchdown to Smith. He finished the game 20 of 27 for a career-high 435 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
“I thought Mac played really well in the game,” Saban said. “He kept his poise and didn’t get affected by the tipped-ball interception and just did a really good job.”