One snap. One throw. Boom.
That Vaught-Hemingway voodoo was back as visions of 2014 and 2016 flashed with the first Ole Miss play. It was like that 48-43 game from two years ago picked up where Chad Kelly left it when Jordan Ta’amu hit D.K. Metcalf in stride on the first play of what looked like a typical night in Oxford.
Only that’s where it ended.
Play 1 went 75 yards. The next 58 netted 58 passing yards.
Alabama did its part winning 62-7, shutting out the Rebels in the final 59:49 to take a third straight in the briefly wacky rivalry. It was on pace for a while Saturday when Ta’amu flicked one over the coverage of Saivion Smith to set off the sold-out crowd of 62,919.
“It’s pretty obvious what happened,” Saban said later. “A guy got beat.”
So, Alabama responded with a different look on defense. It sent “a bigger guy,” Saban said in true freshman Patrick Surtain II (6-foot-2) out to defend the 6-4 Metcalf after that.
Metcalf caught one more pass the rest of the night. The longest Ole Miss pass play after the first one covered 17 yards and Ta’amu finished 7-for-22 with two interceptions and 133 total passing yards. He explained what happened from his perspective after the game.
“It was based on coverage,” Ta’amu said. “It depended on what the safeties would do. I saw them coming down. I protected myself with the o-line. I knew D.K. was one-on-one, so I hit that and that was exciting seeing him catch it and run down the field.”
It ignited the Ole Miss sideline.
“After that, I was super confident,” Ta’amu said. “The whole team was confident.”
The next offensive play for Ole Miss turned out to be the biggest one for Alabama. The Rebels went deep to the other side of the field targeting DaMarkus Lodge. It looked for a second like he had a step to make it 14-7 Rebels before Alabama corner Trevon Diggs made a perfect play on the ball.
“Oh yeah, that was a big play for us right there because he batted it down,” said Alabama safety Deionte Thompson. “I feel like that made a statement throughout the night and we fed off of that.”
Several defensive players said they had to put that touchdown behind them quickly in an environment like that.
“We keep moving forward,” said safety Xavier McKinney, who went on to return an interception for a touchdown. “We don’t let one play define us.”
Having a dynamic offense helps too.
Alabama scored four touchdowns in the first quarter to start the rout. Starting right tackle Jedrick Wills processed the first 11 seconds quickly.
“That was expected,” Wills said. “We came into their house, the first week of the SEC and they were going to come out fired up. I just felt like we had to do the same thing and just respond the way we know how we can do.”
Rebel receiver AJ Brown, the nation’s No. 8 pass catcher with 15 receptions for 251 yards in the first game finished Saturday with just 34 yards on four receptions.
Smith, the Alabama cornerback who got beat on the first play, wasn’t benched completely after that and Saban wasn’t too hard on him after the game.
“We have a lot of confidence in Saivion,” Saban said. “He’s played well for us and we need him to be a good player and a confident player as well.”
Collectively stifling an Ole Miss passing offense that averaged 407.5 yards should help there. This was the first major test for a rebuilt Alabama secondary and none of them left Oxford on Saturday night feeling the way they did after the first snap.
Source : https://www.al.com/alabamafootball/index.ssf/2018/09/what_happened_on_first-play_ol.html