Tight end becomes big part of attack
By JOE MEDLEY
ATLANTA — Life couldn’t haven’t been much better for Colin Peek on Saturday.
The Alabama tight end and Florida product caught a touchdown pass in the second-ranked Crimson Tide’s 32-13 win over top-ranked Florida in the SEC championship.
He caught that touchdown pass and reveled in the victory in Atlanta, where he started his college career as a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket.
“I’m just so happy to have a phenomenal team win,” he said.
And happy to enjoy the SEC championship on the field this time.
Peek transferred from Tech before the 2008 season and watched from the stands as Alabama led eventual national champion Florida after three quarters.
He watched as Tim Tebow rallied his home-state school, leading two fourth-quarter touchdown drives for the victory in a de facto national semifinal.
That game created an almost season-long anticipation of a rematch, and much of the talk leading up to the game centered on whether Alabama had improved enough to make the difference against Florida this time.
Peek was one of the reasons why the answer was an emphatic yes.
He filled an immediate need after Alabama lost two senior tight ends and became an X-factor for Alabama. When defenses became occupied with stopping running back Mark Ingram and covering receivers Julio Jones and Marquis Maze, there was always Peek.
The 6-foot-6, 255-pound inviting target extended many drives this season, and he came up with his share of big plays like a touchdown reception against rival Auburn eight days before the SEC final.
But Peek’s 17-yard touchdown reception Saturday was highlight-reel stuff.
Running to his left, Peek got behind Florida’s secondary. Greg McElroy lobbed what looked to be an overthrown ball, but Peek made up ground.
The pass was a touch inside, but Peek leaned to his right and made the over-the-helmet catch.
The touchdown at 9:53 of the third quarter put Alabama up 26-13, giving the Tide a two-score lead after Florida went three plays and out on the first possession of the second half.
“You felt like you could still come back, if we would have got something going right away in the third quarter,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said. “We obviously didn’t, so that was a huge momentum shift.”
Peek made the move after Tech hired head coach Paul Johnson and switched to Johnson’s run-heavy option offense.
Now, Peek is playing on a balanced Alabama team, and he has 26 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our big thing that I said in our team meeting was no regrets,” he said. “You’ve gotta go out there, and you can never be afraid of losing. It’s just how much you’re willing to sacrifice to get that win, to get that greatness.
“Our team motto this week was no regrets. Go out there and dominate from start to finish.”