Alabama football notes: Marquis Maze shows wildcat has some bite

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerOctober 3, 2010 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama version of the wildcat saw its first wrinkle of the season.

In just the first pass thrown from the formation, wide receiver Marquis Maze faked the end around to Julio Jones then spotted tight end Michael Williams wide open behind the Gators defense for a 19-yard touchdown.

Maze, a high school quarterback, hinted earlier in the season that he’s be comfortable throwing a pass if needed. And his lofted toss hit Williams in stride to leave a stunned Florida trailing 24-0 with 6:09 left in the first half.

Maze joked that the formation should be called the “Bobcat” when he was taking the snaps since he’s quicker than the other wildcat quarterbacks Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Maze had taken just two previous snaps this season, running once and handing off to Jones on the other.

Daytime TV

CBS announced during saturday night’s game that it would televise next week‘s Alabama at South Carolina game with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

It left the LSU at Florida game for ESPN at 7:30 p.m.

Injuries

Marcell Dareus started and made a huge stop on third and goal on the opening drive.

Making just his third tackle of the year, Dareus swallowed wildcat quarterback Trey Burton for a one-yard loss on third and goal from the 1. Slowed by an ankle injury suffered in the first half of the Arkansas win, Dareus was slowed in practice early in the week but improved as game day approached.

Florida’s leading rusher Jeff Demps started and took the first hand off of the game four yards. He sprained his foot a week ago against Kentucky and was listed as probable heading into the game.

Courtney Upshaw appeared to be back at full strength after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the opener. The Tide linebacker knocked down a pass and had a team-high four tackles at halftime two going for losses.

Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis reportedly missed the trip to Tuscaloosa with a back injury.

The jump pass

Burton’s been compared to Tim Tebow all week, but the rookie Gator couldn’t pull off one of his predecessor’s signature plays on fourth down of Florida’s first drive.

Taking the shotgun snap at the 2, Burton appeared to be running for the goal line. But he stopped short and lobbed a pass over the line.

But this jump pass didn’t end in a touchdown like Tebow’s did.

Instead, Nico Johnson intercepted the pass for a touchback.

Starting fast

After limping out of the starting gate at Arkansas, Alabama jumped on Florida quickly.

Scoring the game’s first 24 points, the Tide increased its overall first-half scoring advantage to 124-36 over the first five games of the season.

Florida, on the other hand, was held scoreless in the first quarter for the fourth time this season. Last week’s 14 points it scored on Kentucky remain the Gators only points scored in the opening 15 minutes of 2010 games.

Confusion minimized

A week ago, the Tide defense had several communication and assignment breakdowns against Arkansas.

By Saturday, there wasn’t nearly the same issue against the Gator offense that typically thrives on misdirection and defensive confusion. Linebackers Nico Johnson and Dont’a Hightower appeared more vocal and authoritative making play calls and adjustments early on.

Boo birds return

After behaving for the most part when Penn State game to town, the Alabama student section turned negative again with a SEC rival in the house.

Boos rained down on the Gators during pregame warm-ups and a few players waived their hands to encourage more taunting as they exited following their stretching routine.

Saban criticized the unfriendly welcome Tide fans gave San Jose State in the opener and pled for a more civil reception when the Nittany Lions visited a week later.

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