It pays to be at the right place at the right time, especially when one is playing a position that’s coached by Nick Saban.
Alabama’s season opener versus Duke featured the ever-growing connection between Tua Tagovailoa and Jerry Jeudy, two touchdowns at the tight end position, three true freshmen starting on defense, and Saban called for a personal foul in a 42-3 win for the Crimson Tide.
One of the best moments from week one happened late in regulation, as a fourth young face made an impactful play inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Jordan Battle, a four-star from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was listed at co-backup to Xavier McKinney at free safety on Alabama’s depth chart – prior to the start of the season.
The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder impressed both Saban and Charles Kelly (safeties coach) with his coverage skills and ball skills throughout fall camp, and Saban felt like he would make a difference in the rotation.
With the point spread of –33.5 in favor of Alabama, the Blue Devils tried to back door its way to cover the mark. Quentin Harris was looking for a touchdown pass in the fourth and as the Tide was in Cover 3, the junior quarterback thought he had one.
Aaron Young, senior wide receiver, had ran past Marcus Banks on a go-route to the end zone and while Alabama was in the wrong coverage, it was Battle who bailed out his team.
He read the play from his safety spot, displayed range in tracking the ball, and brought in a timely interception.
His teammates were excited, he grabbed the “Ball Out” turnover belt and Saban could only say one thing in his presser on Wednesday about the freshman.
Jordan “freaking” Battle. pic.twitter.com/3Rt7l4yATx
— Stephen M. Smith (@CoachingMSmith) August 31, 2019
“I love Jordan Battle,” Saban said. “He is a really good player. He’s one of the young players on our team that seems to be able to stay focused and improve and make plays every day.”
Awareness and making adjustments are two important aspects of college football.
Battle was aware of his position in relation to the moment of the game, and he adjusted to the ball in creating a turnover. The biggest motto inside Alabama’s football program is finish.
Whether it’s a drill, a play or a game, the Crimson Tide wants to finish with dominance and productivity. This is what made Saban smile the most about Battle’s efforts versus Duke.
“I think he is the kind of player that even though we did not do the right thing on that side in coverage, he finished the play,” Saban said. “He went and played the ball with confidence and that is a big part of being a good defensive back. We are excited about him.”
Battle will get more opportunities as the season progresses. He’s about to take part in his first game at Bryant-Denny Stadium this weekend against New Mexico State.
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