Marquis Maze Has Big Day In Opener

All eyes were on Heisman Trophy candidate Trent Richardson when the Alabama offense took the field for its season-opening 48-7 thumping of Kent State. Maybe they should have been on Marquis Maze.

Oh, it wasn't that Alabama junior Trent Richardson performed terribly, especially when he had blocking. The Crimson Tide tailback scored three touchdowns, but rushed for only 37 net yards on 13 totes.

Marquis Maze, a senior wide receiver from Tarrant, set career bests in receiving and return yardage against the Golden Flashes. He returned eight punts for 96 yards, a kickoff for 39 yards, and caught eight passes for 118 more. That adds up to a whopping 253 all-purpose yards.

Said Tide Coach Nick Saban, "Marquis Maze did a fantastic job today, not only with catches, but in general on the kicking game and the return game. We need more guys to step up (like Maze did) and be explosive players on offense." Saban said other receivers are expected to contribute soon, when Duron Carter gets acclimated and Hanks returns from his two-game NCAA-mandated suspension.

"Coach (Saban) just gave me an opportunity to make plays today, and I tried to take advantage," Maze said. "It wasn't just me, it was the offensive line, the quarterbacks, special teams; those guys did an excellent job in helping me accomplish what I did today.

"It just felt good to get back out there and face another opponent. As far as the team, I think we did a good job, but we have a lot to improve on. We just have to see what we did wrong Monday (on film), and fix it"

As well as his stats look, Maze, ever the perfectionist was not satisfied with his play. He never is. "I know I can do better. I muffed a punt," Maze said. "That bothered me the most, and I dropped a pass on third-and-10. I‘m definitely not satisfied."

Maze said he and his mates couldn't tell a difference which quarterback, A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims, was in the huddle calling plays. "I don't think guys really knew who was at quarterback at the time," Maze said. "Both guys took control of the huddle. I thought both guys did good jobs."

With the absence of Darius Hanks, Maze felt several of his teammates stepped up to aid the passing attack. "DeAndrew White. Brandon Gibson. Kenny Bell. Those guys played with me," Maze said, "the running backs did well." White had four catches for 44 yards in his first career start and game. Gibson, a fifth-year senior, contributed an 18 yard catch. Among the backs, sophomore Eddie Lacy had 76 yards on three effective screens, and Richardson gained 16 on one.

Other names in the receiving column were senior H-back Brad Smelley (one for eight yards), true freshman receiver Christion Jones (one for eight), red shirt freshman tight end Brian Vogler (one for six) and sophomore receiver Kevin Norwood (one for five yards).

Junior Barrett Jones played three different spots on the offensive line. He started at left tackle, saw time at left guard, and snapped a few series. One reporter asked Jones if he could also play quarterback, if needed. "When I was younger, I had a dream of playing quarterback, but I've pretty much given that up," he said with a grin. "I could probably handle making the calls, but I don't know if I could throw the ball.

"We tried a lot of different combinations (on the line), and I was at a lot of different spots. That's something we knew coming in was going to happen."

"Well, Barrett (Jones) is going to be our backup center now, he got to get some reps there," said senior starting center William Vlachos. "We all look forward to improving, and we are lucky that a lot of guys got to play (on the line). We will look at film and try to clean it all up.

"We probably did not keep the foot on the pedal like we should have. We turned the ball over (five times), so we've definitely got to get that corrected. We've got a long ways to go (offensively), but it was a good first game, and I am looking forward to improving this next week in practice."

Jones and Vlachos both said they were impressed with the job true freshman left tackle Cyrus Kouandijio did while in the game at left tackle.

"He's a fast learner, and he's really done a good job of picking up the offense," Jones said.

"Cyrus was a little nervous at first, but he came in there and did a really good job," Vlachos added.

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