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Alabama’s Christion Jones single-handedly beats Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech v Alabama AP

Turns out all No. 1 Alabama needed to beat Virginia Tech was two touches by wide receiver Christion Jones.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior opened Alabama’s scoring with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown after Virginia Tech’s first possession, then followed it up with a pinball-like 94-yard kickoff return for a score late in the second quarter to spearhead the Tide’s 35-10 win over the Hokies in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

Jones added a third touchdown in the third quarter, a 38-yard catch from A.J. McCarron as he became the first player in Alabama history to score on a kick return, punt return and reception in the same game.

Before the rest of the country despairs over yet another weapon emerging for the Tide, it might do well to consider that Alabama was very pedestrian on offense, compiling just 206 total yards and 11 first downs. McCarron looked rusty, completing 10 of 22 passes for 110 yards and a pick to go with his touchdown strike to Jones. Bama rushed for just 96 yards (43 of it in garbage time) and averaged 2.5 yards per carry.

“We have too many good players and too many skill players on offense not to be more consistent,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said afterward. “We’ve got plenty of things to improve on.”

Take away Jones and Tech might’ve had a chance to pull the upset. The Hokies played inspired defense all night, pressuring McCarron and clogging running lanes.  But outside of a 77-yard touchdown run by running back Trey Edmunds, the offense didn’t provide much relief. Quarterback Logan Thomas was abysmal, completing five of 26 passes for 59 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri.

The good news for Tech was that its defense was able to go toe-to-toe with the Tide’s offense for most of the game.  And the running game showed some life, so if Thomas can come around, the Hokies might have a chance to make some noise in the ACC.

The discouraging news for the rest of college football was that Bama played as poorly on offense as it ever has under Saban and still won by 25.

The sloppiness of Alabama’s play reveals just how hard it is to maintain focus game-in and game-out in this sport, no matter how talented the program. There’s a reason no team has ever three-peated as national champ. But it takes a little luck, too, and Alabama was fortunate to win so handily despite playing so far below its potential.

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11 Responses to “Alabama’s Christion Jones single-handedly beats Virginia Tech”
  1. be4bama says: Aug 31, 2013 9:02 PM

    He sure did. ROLL JONES ROLL

  2. rsmeans says: Aug 31, 2013 9:03 PM

    I have predicted all along that the Alabama offense was highly overrated and that both AJ and Amari will regress this year. Still I am not sure anyone can beat them because of their overpowering depth and defense. In this case the special teams accounted for almost 300 yards but that cannot be depended on in the future.

  3. Deb says: Aug 31, 2013 9:12 PM

    Hi, Chris. Nice to have you aboard.

    I’m as giddy as a puppy today just to have football back and a win on the board. That said … no, it wasn’t the most satisfying game from an offensive perspective. Thank you, Christion Jones! But if any of us thought we could lose that many players from last year’s offensive line yet make a seamless transition into another championship season … we’ve been drinking our own Kool-Aid.

    Since A&M is only two weeks away, let’s hope this game highlighted the weaknesses and Saban can work out the kinks over the bye.

  4. burm61 says: Aug 31, 2013 9:41 PM

    As a Hokie fan Coach Beamer said it best : “These kids played their hearts out.” Very impressed with VT. I wasn’t expecting a win but hoping it’d be respectable and we accomplished that.

  5. dcroz says: Aug 31, 2013 10:05 PM

    First off, congrats to Virginia Tech on a great game; it was much, much closer than the score indicates.

    The offensive line was terrible tonight, though give the Hokies a lot of credit for that. Beamer and company knew that the Tide’s OL was young and not used to playing as a unit, and they had a brilliant plan to exploit it by stacking the block and running blitzes on most every play. Had Tech been able to put together any semblance of a passing game (and the QB and receivers both bear responsibility for that) then this could have turned into a nailbiter.

    Still, this was a really vanilla offensive scheme Saban and Nussmeier called tonight. Nothing fancy, no tricks, just a handful of plays and looks. Jalston Fowler was used to great effect as a blocking back last year before getting injured early in the season; while he played some tonight, he didn’t do so in that capacity, but don’t be surprised if he does that in two weeks. A lot of new faces got reps throughout the game, including several running backs vying to back up Yeldon and a few throws to receives not named Amari Cooper. Saban knew he could win this game with a simple playbook so he wouldn’t have to tip his hand to Texas A&M in two weeks more than necessary.

    I hate that we have a bye next week; at this point in the season, we really need another game far more than time off. But knowing Saban, it will be used to great effect to work on the notepad full of things he didn’t like from tonight’s game.

  6. Deb says: Aug 31, 2013 10:10 PM

    @burm61 …

    Yes, the Hokies were more than respectable and I want to echo dcroz’s congrats on a game well-played. As he posted, the game was closer than the score indicates, and Beamer should be very happy, especially with their performance on defense.

  7. dhardy8207 says: Sep 1, 2013 8:45 AM

    So proud of BAMA’s players today! Not the cleanest game to start the season but a win none the less and a chance for Coach Saban to iron out the wrinkles before the next game…

    Looking forward to another spectacular season whether there is a three peat or not, still very proud of the Tide’s accomplishments. 3 national championships within a five year period is stellar and the team will get stronger and mesh better as the season goes on….

    Great play by C. Jones!!…

    ROLL TIDE!!!

  8. ezwriter69 says: Sep 1, 2013 11:17 AM

    2.5 ypc running, 4.6 yards per attempt passing, that’s horrible. Special teams won’t bail you out every week, this offense is very weak right now.

  9. bralinshan says: Sep 1, 2013 11:34 AM

    I’m pretty sure that Alabama will not see a better defense all year than VT’s. First, VT returned 9 starters on D and I figured that could keep them around in the game awhile.

    The special teams and defense won the game for Bama…that was the worst offensive performance for Alabama in the Saban era. It’s amazing that 3 starters on the offensive line were that big of difference.

    VT has the kind of defense that could win a national title. But, their offense is so horrendous that they will only win 8-9 games.

    Logan Thomas is a multi-year starter and should be better. Going 6-25 with a pick six? VT should try someone else because they have athletes and if they can muster something on offense, they can be a damn good team.

  10. greggatx says: Sep 1, 2013 9:23 PM

    Not a very impressive win! Their stats are very weak for a #1 team. Outside of special team yards they barely got 200 yds. That won’t cut it! I think the tide has sailed!!

  11. mstiger1 says: Sep 1, 2013 11:39 PM

    VT defense that could win a national title ???? Talk about drinking the Kool Aid. Bama will have at least 2 losses this year. It would be worse except for the powder puff schedule.

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