Saturday, November 7, 2009
Never one to sweat, Jones delivers for Tide
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Julio Jones finished with four catches for 102 yards.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The sweat beads on Julio Jones’ forehead Saturday night made it look like he’d just hopped out of the shower.
So as cool a customer as he is -- both on and off the field -- we know this about him: The guy does sweat.
In this instance, it was because of all the lights from the television cameras beaming down on him as he quietly explained for the 1,000th time that he’s about one thing.
“It’s never been about me. It’s about this team,” Jones said. “My role on this team is to do whatever I can to help us win.”
On Saturday, he made the play they’ll be talking about for a long time around here if the Crimson Tide go on to win a championship. His 73-yard catch and run for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter of Alabama’s 24-15 win over LSU broke the Tigers’ spirit, raised the decibel level in Bryant-Denny Stadium to AC/DC-like proportions and announced to the college football world that Jones is alive and well.
The LSU defenders that saw him leave a vapor trail down the left sideline would certainly agree.
And so would Jones’ teammates, who’d been saying it was just a matter of time.
“He was gone. He was pulling away from people, and that just shows how explosive he is. All it takes is one touch, and he took it (73) yards,” said Alabama running back Mark Ingram, who didn’t have a shabby game himself with 144 yards rushing on 22 carries.
“That’s just Julio. We needed somebody in this game particularly to make a play, and he stepped up and made a huge play. That gave us the momentum we needed to help us finish off the game.”
Jones finished with four catches for 102 yards, and 92 of those yards came after the catch. In his last two games, he has 11 catches for 156 yards.
“Julio is an outstanding player, and I think probably last week, the Tennessee game, is where he looked like his old self in terms of having the juice and the burst, and he played a good game tonight and a good game then,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We want to continue to feature him, but I’m really pleased with the way the rest of our receivers played in the game.
“They all made some big plays. (Darius) Hanks made a big catch. Marquis Maze made some big plays, and that’s what we need. We need that kind of balance. We need the ball distributed where it’s supposed to go, and I think Greg (McElroy) did a great job of that tonight.”
In addition to Jones’ 73-yard streak, Maze had a 37-yard catch and Hanks a 21-yard grab.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, Alabama wide receivers had combined for just two catches of longer than 15 yards in their previous three games.
“We had to step up because we knew they were going to load the box,” said Jones, who showed about as much emotion as he’s ever going to right after the game while celebrating with a few of his teammates.
Jones shrugs it off, but his teammates say the biggest difference with him now is that he’s healthy, especially coming off the bye week. He had an ankle injury coming into the season and then bruised his knee in the second game.
“Everybody has injuries. You just have to get over them,” Jones said. “I did all right. I could have done better.
“I expect to make plays. That’s the kind of player I am.”