Much has been made about The University of Alabama’s potent run attack, with Heisman candidate Trent Richardson leading the way. However, Saturday’s game against Kent State showed the Crimson Tide that they have another weapon up their sleeves if need be.
Marquis Maze shined in his first game as the Tide’s primary receiver, racking up eight receptions en route to 118 yards and a touchdown. With Darius Hanks having to sit out in order to use his medical red-shirt and Duron Carter not playing due to the lack of preparation he had with the team, Maze carried much of the weight of the passing game on his shoulders on Saturday.
“Marquis Maze did a fantastic job today, not only with eight catches, but also doing a really good job in the kicking game and return game,” head coach Nick Saban said. “We obviously have two receivers who we feel can be key contributors who were not in the game today. Hopefully we will have one of those guys back to contribute next week, and Hanks will be back after this next game.”
The possible emergence of Carter as well as the return of Hanks will give opposing defenses more players to focus on and should allow for some of the pressure to be taken off of Maze.
Maze said he did not feel any extra pressure on Saturday. However, he did acknowledge that having Carter and Hanks could only help.
“I don’t think it is a lot of pressure on me, you just have to play football,” Maze said. “[Having both receivers back] should help. They are good receivers and I have got a chance to practice with them. I feel like with those guys coming back, it will be a lot of keeping up with what I am doing now.”
Hanks and Carter are not the only receivers who could help in the passing game. The Tide has plenty of talented young players, such as freshman DeAndrew White, who caught four passes for 44 yards on Saturday.
Being a senior, Maze said he is embracing the mentor role with his fellow receivers, giving them advice and encouragement.
“[I view myself as a leader], not just as a receiver but on the team also,” Maze said. “A lot of guys look up to me, even some of the older guys. I just mainly tell them to just play football. I tell them they can do it and not to worry about mistakes because you can always make up for them.”
Maze said he was very impressed in what he saw from some of the younger receivers during the game, singling out Kenny Bell and DeAndrew White specifically.
Maze was not the only one impressed with what he saw from the receivers.
“They are not going to quit,” running back Trent Richardson said of the receivers.
“We have got a lot of speed guys out there, and Maze he did a tremendous job today. White he did a good job too. A lot of those boys, they are young and they are just ready to play. They are trying to show everybody that all the receivers on the team are capable.”
Going forward Alabama knows that despite being known as a running team, it will be the receivers who help open up doors for Richardson.
“It just takes a lot of pressure off of me,” Richardson said. “You don’t have seven or eight in the box all the time. Especially when you can make that deep throw, it just really opens everything up.”