Somebody give DeVonta Smith a cape because that man can fly.
The Alabama wide receiver dove to catch a pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the end zone Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. While airborne, Smith got his hands on the ball and fell down with it securely in his arms. Touchdown.
“Because of the game plan, we knew that play was coming,” fellow wide receiver Henry Ruggs III said. “I told him, ‘You’re going to have the first play, and you’re going to catch a touchdown.’ So, I was like what’d I tell you?
“We do other recreational sports outside of football,” he added, “so I kind of got a feel for his athletic ability and the things that he can do.”
It was the first play of the Crimson Tide’s first offensive drive and sparked No. 1 Alabama’s 45-23 win over No. 22 Texas A&M.
Alabama finished with 415 passing yards, way more than its 109 rushing yards. Four of its six touchdowns came through the air.
“They definitely had an extra guy in the box most of the time, so we were pulling the ball and throwing,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “And it was effective for us.”
For the first time in his career, Tagovailoa threw for more than 300 yards in a game. He hit 387, which ties him with AJ McCarron (2014 against Oklahoma) for fifth-most passing yards in a game in Alabama history. Tagovailoa also threw four touchdown passes, one less than the school record. He finished 22-of-30.
“He’s incredibly accurate,” tight end Hale Hentges said. “In practice, there will be times when we’re running a route and if you don’t turn your head on time, it’ll hit you right in the chest. Like a spear.”
Alabama has played four games now without Tagovailoa taking a single snap in the fourth quarter. He almost made it to the end of the third quarter against Texas A&M before being pulled. Jalen Hurts entered with about a minute left in that period with Alabama up by 29 points and completed all three of his passes for 28 yards.
Two of Tagovailoa’s touchdown passes went to Hentges. He scored from 23 and 6 yards out. The other money throws went to Ruggs and Smith.
Ruggs’ touchdown pass was really just a simple shovel pass that ended up turning into a 57-yard score.
“It’s just something that we worked on at practice,” he said. “We had to rep it to get the tempo if I want to outrun everybody. But they got good leverage on the blocks, so I got out to the perimeter and it’s just happened in our favor.”
Things don’t just happen in the Crimson Tide’s favor. Everything is practiced to perfection. That’s why Ruggs was able to call Smith’s touchdown before it even happened.
Also, there are just too many options to pass up. Eight different players caught a pass.
“That’s just how Tua rolls,” Hentges said. “… He finds people who are open, and if you’re not open, he can make you open.”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.