On two of the more memorable plays from Alabama’s last game against Missouri on Saturday, quarterback Mac Jones and Jaylen Waddle were on the opposite end of two big shots during two largely productive plays for the Crimson Tide.
First came Waddle’s acrobatic 46-yard reception over the middle of the field where he took a shot from Tigers safety Tyree Gillespie. The play placed Alabama all the way inside of Missouri’s 20, setting up the Crimson Tide for an important early score.
“Well I kind of, can see through my eye of so I kind of braced a little bit and I jumped,” said Waddle on Monday when asked to describe the play. “That’s pretty much it.”
Shortly on that very same drive, Jones dropped back for a pass on third and seven and delivered a strike to Waddle while taking a big hit of his own from a defensive stunt that fooled the offensive line. Despite taking one on the chin Jones’ pass to Waddle was as accurate as ever and following the game, Jones described how he welcomes the contact.
“I love getting hit,” said Jones. “There’s nothing better than getting hit and throwing the ball. So you know that’s part of the game, it really kind of gave me a little energy. I’ve always been that way and you know hopefully you know I can stay protected and the line will do their job. But that wasn’t even their fault I just have to get the ball out a little quicker on that one.”
The toughness displayed from two of Alabama’s most talented athletes is a tone-setter for the rest of the team. It’s the kind of intangibles that caught the attention of head coach Nick Saban who wants to use them as an example for the rest of the team.
“I think that these guys both set a great example in terms of how they compete, the toughness they show in a game. And I think that has a tremendous impact on everyone else,” said Saban on Monday. “I mean it certainly should. If players have bought into the team and they’re rooting for their teammates and they’re into the game, anybody that’s a competitor has a special appreciation for guys making great plays.
“And sometimes great plays come out of toughness, not just fantastic ability. I think those two guys represented what we’re trying to teach in terms of intangibles, the kind of toughness, the kind of effort, the kind of focus that you have to sustain your intensity for 60 minutes in the game. And I think those two guys exemplified that fairly well in the game.”
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77