The long-awaited return of University of Alabama offensive lineman Deonte Brown in Alabama’s penultimate drive of the first half, when Brown was inserted as the left guard. He was on the field for Alabama’s seven-play, 45-yard touchdown drive and it’s one play, 28-yard touchdown drive.
The comeback continued after the halftime break — in a different form. He saw some time at right guard in the second half.
UA coach Nick Saban said on his Thursday radio show that Brown would play both left and right guard in his first game back from NCAA suspension, and Brown did. His return came in UA’s 59-31 win over Ole Miss.
“Deonte’s Deonte: he brings a lot of power, a lot of human,” center Chris Owens said. “When you get a guy like that back on your roster, it gives everybody an internal boost.”
When Brown started at times last year, it was as a left guard before the NCAA suspension took him out of both College Football Playoff games last year and the first four games of this season. His ability to fill both roles was an impressive one to Owens.
“He went through, made sure he knew every spot he needed to, both right and left guard, prepared well and I think it showed on the field when he got out there,” Owens said. “It’s like learning the opposite world. You learn one side: you’re used to having one hand in the ground, you’re stepping with a certain foot, then you go to the other side and do the complete opposite.
“On top of, if you hear a call and you think, ‘OK, that’s me at right guard, but now I’m at left guard so that call doesn’t really apply to me as much as it used to. Being able to learn those positions in a week’s time was really impressive. It’s something that’s hard to do.”
Brown’s presence creates an intriguing personnel situation as UA goes into an open week preceding a trip to Texas A&M. The current interior of left guard Evan Neal, Owens and right guard Landon Dickerson has shown improvement in recent weeks, but Dickerson has shown the ability to move to center, creating a spot for Brown if so desired. Brown also has the ability to slide in left guard, if required. There is also senior Matt Womack, who continues to be listed as a co-starter at right guard and the backup right tackle.
Ruggs down but back
The man responsible for three of Alabama’s five 70-yard plays this season, wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, had a scare in the first quarter, when he fell to the ground at the end of a play in a non-contact injury. Ruggs went in and out of the injury tent for the next 20 or more minutes, at times pacing the sidelines, at times riding the stationary exercise bike.
Ruggs ultimately returned to the game for some plays, but was taken out as a precaution. With an open week coming up, Saban expects him to be fine well before the game against Texas A&M on Oct. 12.
“Henry Ruggs has a hip pointer. He came back in the game, we decided not to play him anymore in the game,” Saban said. “He’ll probably be sore for a few days, but we don’t think it’s an issue long term.”
UA trailed at home for once
With Luke Logan’s 33-yard field goal with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter, giving Ole Miss a 10-7 lead, Alabama trailed a game in Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first time since the 2016 Iron Bowl. Auburn made a field goal in the first three minutes of that game; Alabama tied that game seven minutes later, took the lead three minutes after that and never trailed again.
When UA ultimately prevailed, it made for 29 straight wins at home.
Former Hillcrest High School player Jacquez Jones made his presence felt at Bryant-Denny Stadium against Alabama. The sophomore linebacker made four tackles, including one on fellow Hillcrest graduate and Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. Jones also had a big hit on Trevon Diggs on a kickoff return. For the season, Jones has 26 tackles, including three for a loss.
Edwin Stanton contributed to this report