If you have the stomach to watch it, this is an excellent breakdown of the winning score last night.
Strangely enough, it was the second straight game where the winning play came right at where I was sitting. It wasn’t Parrish getting beat that gave me a sinking feeling as I watched the play develop; it was the realization that Sanders was out of position and wasn’t going to get there in time. Evidently the true freshman quarterback saw that, too.
That was the one responsible for Alabama’s left sideline, where Smith scored: No. 24, Dominick Sanders. Tagovailoa explained what he saw.
“They had split safeties,” he told ESPN’s Maria Taylor on the field afterward. “The safety on DeVonta’s side, on the single-receiver side, he tried to disguise his coverage. I tried to look him off. He stayed in the middle. Then I went back outside. It was cover-2 on [the trips’] side, but he stayed inside. I took a shot downfield, and he caught it.”
The disguise Tagovailoa referenced was probably the couple of immediate steps Sanders took toward the front pylon of the end zone, where Smith was ultimately heading. Sanders’ final decision was to cover the middle of the field, where Alabama had a couple of receivers running more horizontal routes.
Smith ran in a straight line. Sanders, the safety, didn’t immediately go to him. Whether that’s because Tagovailoa looked him off, or for some other reason, isn’t clear.