17 August 2008
As Ell pointed out in his write-up of yesterday's scrimmage,
yesterday was a bit of a coming-out party for the Tide's super freshman Julio Jones. But there is one highlight clip from the scrimmage coverage on crimsontradition.com
that has Tide fans buzzing.
Viewing the clip, a couple of words come to mind. These words will be particularly descriptive to those who have been following Bama football since, oh, the mid-70s or so. These two words are:
We view the play from an end-zone camera angle. The clip starts with the play already under-way. John Parker Wilson is under pressure and scrambling right, then unloads in what appears to be an up-for-grabs downfield heave from just inside his own 30.
Just as Wilson unleashes the throw, Julio Jones comes into view downfield. Jones is around midfield, covered one-on-one by Marquis Johnson, half-a-step behind him, and is holding up his hand for the ball.
He sees Wilson uncork it. Like Willie Mays on a Vic Wertz liner,
Jones has it tracked from the get-go and runs to the right spot.
Only the Say-Hey Kid never had a cornerback trying to keep him from catching Wertz's liner. To Johnson's credit, he stays right with Jones as Jones tracks the ball. Only thing is, Jones doesn't just run to the spot where the ball was going to come down, he runs to the spot where he can shield Johnson from the ball with his body as it comes down and still have room to jump up and grab it himself. Carefully, Jones keeps his body between Johnson and the ball's trajectory the entire time.
Like a sharpshooter, Jones hits the perfect spot where he can use his five inch, eighteen pound advantage over Johnson to shield the smaller man from the ball as it comes down, right by the sideline on about the 35-yard-line, 30 yards or so downfield from the line of scrimmage. Johnson should have stayed on the ground to go for the tackle, but instead he futilely leaps at a ball he can't quite touch, reducing Marquis to feebly pawing at the 210-pound Jones as he, Johnson, falls to the ground.
(This was the part that brought those two words above to mind, by the way. Blocking out smaller DBs to deny them a chance at a catch was something we saw a lot of from Oz, but not so much since.)
Pawing from a 192-pound defensive back does not tackle Julio Jones. Or slow him down. But he does have to slow down enough to catch the ball that Rashad Johnson, in pursuit at his top speed - and Rashad is said to be the fastest guy on the team - gets an angle on him.
So here's the true freshman streaking down the sideline with Rashad Johnson bearing down on him. (Just in case there's anybody viewing a website named bamasportsreport.com who doesn't already know this, that's returning first-team all-SEC safety Rashad Johnson
bearing down on him.)
So what does the rook do? Catching Johnson out of the corner of his eye, he suddenly half-wheels at the 20-yard-line, just as Johnson closes for the tackle, and fires a wicked stiff-arm that catches Johnson clean on the face-mask and shoves him out of tackling range.
The all-star DB quickly recovers, closes again, and launches himself at Jones' legs, tripping him up with textbook form - but Jones' fall takes him across the goal line for an approximately 65-yard touchdown.
Speaking for myself only here - I say it's time that we abandon the polite fiction that Jones is not already our top receiver. That play was not, I don't think, in Mike McCoy's repertoire.