Jones, Tide Fry Hokies
ATLANTA – In many ways, Alabama’s season-opening romp over Virginal Tech seemed like a Gene Stallings-coached Tide game. Playing the role of David Palmer was junior receiver/kick returner Christion Jones. The offense struggled, but like Jay Barker back in the day, AJ McCarron did nothing to cost his team the game. And, like all Stallings squads, the defense was saltier than a bag of pretzels.
“Beamer Ball” couldn’t keep up with the Jones’, and the result was a pair of dynamic kick returns that greatly aided Alabama’s season-opening 35-10 win over Virginia Tech in Atlanta. Jones scored on a
72-yard punt return, a 94-yard kickoff return, and threw in a 38-yard touchdown reception from AJ McCarron. He totaled 256 net yards, with 209 of them on returns against a program and head coach in Frank Beamer that’s normally known for its special team’s prowess.“To get a kickoff return and a punt return for points in a game is outstanding,” said Tide coach Nick Saban. “We want our return game to be a weapon for us, and it certainly was tonight.” “It’s every kid’s dream to come out and do things like that,” said Jones. “I’m planning to celebrate it, but
only for 24 hours.” Asked it if Saturday’s win marked his best game ever, he said, “Probably so. I don’t really think of it like that, but some people may say that. I credit the kickoff and punt return teams for their blocking, and coach (Bobby) Williams (Alabama’s special teams coordinator) had some great calls on our return schemes. The blocking schemes were set up great each time. You just want them to keep kicking to you.”Jones’ teammates couldn’t help but notice the junior’s great night, and were quick to praise him. “I give all the credit to Christion Jones,” said junior safety Vinnie Sunseri, who had a 38-yard “pick six” of his own. “Christion came out and gave us all the momentum.” “Christion is very difficult to bring down. He’s a great athlete and he played an amazing game,” said sophomore safet Landon Collins, who made five stops on special teams. “We work on special teams every day at every practice. It’s a huge part of what we do.” Jones’ performance could well put him in early Heisman talk ahead of teammates AJ McCarron (10-23 passing for 110 yards with a touchdown and a pick) and T.J. Yeldon, who ran for 75 yards on 17 carries and one score. Senior guard Anthony Steen said he had a quick sideline talk with Jones in-game. “I told him after the second time he scored, ‘If you keep this up, you’ll win the (Heisman) trophy today.’”Senior linebacker C.J. Mosley (seven tackles), who doubles as a blocker on kick and punt returns. On Jones’ second score, the 94-yard kickoff return, Mosley felt both thankful and proud. “He broke a tackle,
and luckily for me, that was the guy I was supposed to block and I missed him. After that, I felt kind of fast, because I was running down the field with Christion, looking for someone else to block. “We always say special teams are a game-changing moment, and we made two big plays.” As well as things went on special teams, the Tide’s offensive unit struggled, amassing only 206 net yards to Tech’s 212. Bama rushed for 96 net yards on 38 carries, a 2.5 average. “They showed us some blitzes we hadn’t seen before,” McCarron said. “Virginia Tech has a great defense. It’s a good measuring stick for us.” Steen agreed, and added that the Hokies defensive lineman showed some new shifts. “I don’t think we were expecting so much movement from them. As the game went on, we adjusted. “We did all right. We wanted to go out there and beat them straight up. As the game went on, we progressed. It’s the first game of the season. A win’s a win.”Saban said, “We whiffed a few times up front because they have good quickness. They overloaded the sides, then would slant back. They outplayed us up front, if you want to know the truth.” passing for 59 yards, one
interception and added a sack. “We played Alabama football,” said Mosley. “Our goal is to hold a team to 13 points or less. We just communicated, and we executed our game plan. Our DB’s did a great job of covering.” Sunseri’s interception return to put the Tide up 21-7 early in the second quarter came as a result of good work earlier in the week by Alabama’s scout team. “They showed us that play out of that formation all week. When I saw the play developing, I was just ready. It was a big play, and a big momentum shift.“But again, I give all the credit to Christion Jones. He was the difference in the game.”
The top-ranked Tide (1-0) will have a bye week, and use it to prepare for a trip to College Station to face Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. Kickoff for that contest is set for 2:30 p.m. CT, with CBS
carrying the game. Said Jones, “We’re going to meditate on this (Virginia Tech) game for a few hours, and then start getting ready for Texas A&M. We’ll get back to our grind and work on fundamentals next week.”
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