November 01, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Jonathan Allen isn't really interested in talking about the ''Superman'' play where the blocker went low and he went airborne into Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight. No. 1 Alabama's talented defensive end also shrugs off any questions about whether he could garner some Heisman Trophy votes.

The 291-pounder has generated attention by returning two fumbles for touchdowns and making that midair hit leading up to Saturday's game against No. 15 LSU, plus an assortment of other plays along the way for one of the nation's top defenses.

''He doesn't want to talk about it,'' Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard said. ''He's a humble guy.''

Allen has played an even bigger role since opting to return for his senior season despite being projected as a likely high-round NFL draft pick. He's one of the Southeastern Conference's elite pass rushers and now is preparing to face the Tigers' running attack led by Leonard Fournette.

Allen has six sacks and a team-high 10 quarterback hurries while leading the Tide's linemen in tackles with 35. He has also matched the touchdowns scored by both leading rusher Damien Harris and Howard.

The big plays have helped Allen stand out even on a defense loaded with star power. He's on the field in more running situations this season with the departure of interior linemen Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson.

''We sort of saved him a little bit for the pass rush situations'' last season, Tide coach Nick Saban said. ''He played some and alternated in there and did a really good job. But this year he's having to play in all phases of the game and has done really well, whether we're playing against a running team or whether he's been called upon to pass rush or whatever it's been.

''I would say that we had confidence that he could do all those things a year ago. He didn't have to do them as often.''

Allen has had a showman's impeccable timing for big plays. If you're going to take flight for a sack, might as well do it in a top 10 matchup with millions of fans watching.

''I heard a little bit about it,'' he said. ''I try not to focus on it. I'm just trying to go out there and get better honestly, and try not to worry about what we've done in the past.''

LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron seems more impressed by the play than Allen.

''I see him jumping over that tailback that tried to cut him and hitting the quarterback underneath the jaw,'' Orgeron said. ''Great effort. Tremendous athlete. Good hip flexibility. Great hands. Very well-coached. Plays with a motor.

''I have a vision of him jumping over that tailback, hitting the quarterback.''

The bigger play in that game two weeks ago was his pivotal 30-yard fumble return for a touchdown late in the third quarter of a tight game .

Against Mississippi, in Alabama's toughest test of the season, Allen rambled 75 yards after another fumble to all but put the game away in the fourth quarter, though the Rebels made a late rally.

''I never scored in high school,'' Allen said. ''It's cool. It's cool to think about sometimes.''

That's about as excitable as he gets when talking about his own play. But that Texas A&M performance did generate some Heisman buzz at a position where that subject seldom even comes up.

''I don't focus on it,'' Allen said. ''It's kind of irrelevant to me. I just want to win a national championship. That's all I care about. That's all I ever wanted to do, to be honest. I am just focused on winning this next game.''

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AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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