Menzie Makes It Happen

Get the picture: Alabama had just been forced to settle for a field goal after three unsuccessful shots from the one-yard line against Arkansas. With the Hogs down just 10-7, quarterback Tyler Wilson was facing third down in his own territory. Two veteran sportswriters decided that it was to be a "tone-setting play."

Turns out, they were right.

Wilson fired a pass into the left flats. Enter the long right arm of the law known as Alabama senior cornerback Dequan Menzie, who batted the ball into the air, calmly picked it off and trotted untouched into the end zone from 25 yards out.

The Tide's 3-point lead swelled to ten.

Tone-changing, indeed.

Asked to describe the play, Menzie first asked, "Which one?"

"The touchdown," a reporter said.

Said Menzie, "That was big. I didn't see the ball until the last second, and I was able to pop it up with my right hand and then catch it and take it in for the touchdown."

How big a play was it?

"Oh, yeah. That was big," Menzie grinned, "The score was 10-6 or 10-7 and I took it in for 17-7, I guess. It was a game-changer. (Arkansas) throws, what, a hundred times a game? We expected to get at least one pick today."

Menzie was quite thrilled to be the guy who delivered said big play.

"That was something I've been dreaming about all year, in fact ever since I've been here."

Indeed, the pick was Menzie's first at Bama, meaning it was obviously also his first touchdown. "First everything," he said.

"The momentum of the game changed right there," said Tide coach Nick Saban of Menzie's scoring theft. "We need to make more plays like that, and get more turnovers.

"DeQuan has played really well for us. He's a really good cover guy."

As is often the case in big wins against good teams, Menzie was not alone in the big play department. Far from it.

Senior Marquis Maze took a punt back 83 yards to put Bama up 31-7. The man who had the best shot to stop Maze was Hoover native Dylan Breeding, the Razorback's punter.

"I have a goal: the punter is never going to stop me," Maze said, matter-of-factly, before continuing. "I saw several of their guys running down. I was so focused on scoring, I couldn't tell if anybody hit me. Once my (teammates) made their blocks. I cut back. All I had to do was run."

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino had a pretty good view of the play. "I thought we got pretty good hang time," he said. "We definitely had guys down the field. When we watch the video, we'll see four or five missed tackles. It was just a great play for (Maze)."

"(Maze) went out the gate," Saban said of the big return,. "Big play. Special teams has got to be a weapon for us."

Special teams played a role in the Tide's first touchdown of the day, when the team lined up for what looked to be a 54-yard Cade Foster field goal attempt to cap it's first drive. Suddenly, Foster shifted into the slot, holder A.J. McCarron raised up and morphed from holder back to quarterback. McCarron lofted a 37-yard scoring strike to a wide open Michael Williams.

"It gave us a spark," the junior tight end said of his touchdown to put the Tide up 7-0, "but we've worked on that (fake) for about two years now. We just happened to bring it to the game plan this weekend. It worked out perfect."

The same could be said of the above-mentioned pick-six and punt return touchdown. Big plays decided a big opening SEC game.

"They beat us in all three phases of the game," said Petrino. "They made big plays, and we didn't. They hurt us with the fake field goal, the punt return, and the (61-yard McCarron-to Trent Richardson) screen pass for a touchdown."

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