Saturday’s game between Alabama and Georgia began as a defensive struggle. The teams combined for five fruitless drives — including four three-and-outs and a lost fumble — before ‘Bama finally went downfield.
Facing 1st-and-10 from his own 20-yard-line, Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker faked a wide receiver screen, then floated a pass to Calvin Ridley down the sideline.
The true freshman gathered the ball, juked a defender to turn a first down into a 50-yard catch-and-run.
“He’s a very confident guy that I think is very focused and really prepares well and shows a lot of maturity,” coach Nick Saban told AL.com‘s Matt Zenitz postgame.
That play on the sideline helped Alabama get on the board for a 3-0 lead, and then Ridley struck again in the second quarter.
Coker found the former 5-star recruit on a deep touchdown pass to push Alabama’s lead to 24-3 and essentially start the rout. Ridley blew by two defenders on the play, and provided Coker with a perfect angle to launch the ball down the middle of the field.
For his early efforts, we’re giving Ridley the Game Ball. Here are other worthy candidates:
Derrick Henry (honorable mention, offense)
This effectively goes to the entire offensive line, too. Henry did the toting, but the front five did some heavy lifting against a tough Georgia front.
Alabama’s primary Heisman candidate finished with 26 carries for 149 yards and his ninth touchdown of the season. His 30-yard score in the second quarter marked the game’s first touchdown, and gave Alabama a lead it would not relinquish.
Cyrus Jones (honorable mention, defense)
UGA picked on freshman cornerback Marlon Humphrey early, so Saban stuck Jones on star receiver Malcolm Mitchell for the remainder of the contest. The Georgia wideout finished the day with three catches — tied for a season-low — and 65 yards, while UGA’s quarterbacks went 11-of-31 for 106 yards and three interceptions.
“We thought we had a lot to prove,” Jones told AL.com’s Matt Zenitz. “Coach was saying that people were counting us out all week. … It definitely motivated us.”
Minkah Fitzpatrick (honorable mention, special teams)
Fitzpatrick made excellent plays on defense, but his blocked punt woke viewers up in the second quarter. The freshman cornerback nearly stole the ball off Collin Barber’s foot, and then made the scoop for an easy score and 17-3 lead. Alabama never looked back.
— RTR! Cap (@capstonekid) October 4, 2015