The very first pass Missouri quarterback Drew Lock threw against Alabama was caught, just not by the intended target.
UA defensive back Saivion Smith snagged it, sparking Alabama’s 39-10 victory Saturday night over Missouri in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Lock is the same gunslinger who was responsible for 44 passing touchdowns last season. He also had 3,964 passing yards, good for fourth-most in a single season in SEC history. He averaged 304.9 yards per game.
That was then. This is now.
The Crimson Tide limited him to 142 passing yards. He was averaging 297.4 before the game.
“I think the guy is an outstanding player, I really do,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He’s got a great arm. He’s very accurate with the ball.”
Lock was also picked off twice. Smith had both steals. He ran his first one back 33 yards. The second one was in the fourth quarter – after Lock was pressured by linebacker Anfernee Jennings – and wasn’t returned.
Smith, a junior college transfer, filled the void left by defensive back Trevon Diggs, who is out indefinitely with an injury.
“It was big-time,” UA linebacker Christian Miller said. “We got faith in all our guys. Somebody goes down, people step up.”
Another also: Lock was sacked four times. One of those even resulted in a safety. Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams brought down Lock in the end zone to end the third quarter. It was a loss of 6 yards.
“I was just trying to get a hit on him,” Williams said. “I thought he threw it. I looked down and saw he still had the ball, and the referee said it was a safety.”
UA linebacker Mack Wilson and defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs each had a sack. Buggs forced a fumble while tackling Lock, and Jennings recovered it.
Lineman Raekwon Davis and Buggs also combined for a sack.
“There were a few times when we didn’t affect him and he made some good throws,” Wilson said. “But overall, through out the whole game, I think we did a decent job to stop the pass.”
The word decent was used intentionally. Certain parts of the defense’s game were not clean.
“Just matching the patterns better,” Wilson said. “Basically going back to practice scramble drills; when he’s scrambling, matching the guy and making sure you stay with him. I feel like somebody lost one of their guys when he was scrambling. That’s why they were able to score.”
Missouri’s only touchdown did come through the air. At the end of the first quarter, Lock delivered a perfect 20-yard pass to running back Jalen Knox in the left corner of the end zone. Lock had all the time in the world while in the pocket. Knox was double covered, too.
That was one of his 13 completions. He threw the ball 26 times, giving him a 50 percent success rate.
“Our guys were doing a good job of changing things,” Saban said. “We kind of had it orchestrated so they knew exactly how to do what they were doing.
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.