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Upon Further Review: Alabama 63, Southern Miss 14

The final word on the Crimson Tide's victory against the Golden Eagles at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Following Saturday night's 63-14 victory, University of Alabama fans pretty much only have two questions when it comes to junior wide receiver Jameson Williams, a transfer out of Ohio State: 

1) What was that dance he was doing?

It looked like a tribute to Morris Day and the Time, or the 1998 Atlanta Falcons, who led by Jamal Anderson would flap their wings and bounce to the crowd and teammates.

(Yes, I'm dating myself here with these references).

2] What on earth were the Buckeyes thinking by not starting him, prompting Williams to leave for the team that beat them for the 2020 national championship?

More on that in a moment ... 

Play(s) of the Game: We're calling it a tie between the 100-yard kick return for a touchdown to open the game, and the 81-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Young to Williams early in the second quarter. The former set the tone for the game. The latter helped spark a 600-yard night as the Crimson Tide offense found out what it's capable of this season. 

Player(s) of the Game: Williams and Young. Since both had record-setting performances, you can't really exclude one of them. 

Statistic of the Game: When Alabama failed for the first time to convert a third down, following the intentional grounding penalty during the second quarter, Southern Miss had converted just one third-down opportunity. The score was 35-0.  

5 Things to Note:

1] Williams vs. Ohio State 

For the season, Williams has 299 receiving yards on 12 catches and three receiving touchdowns. He leads the Crimson Tide in yards and is second to John Metchie III in receptions (24 for 240 yards). 

Ohio State has three players with 100-plus receiving yards thus far, and each has three touchdown catches: 

  • Garrett Wilson 23-391 
  • Chris Olave 18-255 
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba 16 283 

They're averaging a very respectable 17.0, 14.2 and 17.7 yards per catch. 

Williams is averaging 24.9 per catch. 

Moreover, the Buckeyes' longest kick return this season is 36 yards, and the team total through four games in 177 yards. 

In terms of all-purpose yards, Williams has 476. Leading Ohio State is running back TreVeyon Henderson with 545. 

2] Tight ends plus

Lost in all the big numbers on Saturday was Jahleel Billingsley having the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. The last Alabama tight end to hit that milestone was Irv Smith Jr., who only did it once (123 yards at Arkansas in 2018).

With Cameron Latu in the mix, Alabama's tight ends finished with eight receptions for 162 yards and three touchdowns. 

The guess here is that it's the most production out of the position since O.J. Howard in the 2015 national title game when he single-handedly had 208 receiving yards against Clemson. The only other time he topped 100 yards with the Crimson Tide was the 2016 title game.  

3] Tight ends minus

Golden Eagles Senior tight end Grayson Gunter set a career-high in receiving yards and tied his career-high for receptions in a game when he finished with three catches for 61 yards. 

"I knew coming in this week that I would have an opportunity to make some catches," he said.  

Hunter was targeted three additional times, for a total of six, as opposing coaches increasingly believe it's one of the few ways to move the ball against the Alabama defense. 

Remember, Southern Miss head coach Will Hall used to be at West Alabama, and spent years studying the Crimson Tide defenses. So did next week's head coach, former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. 

Ironically, it was arguably the biggest criticism of his time at Alabama, he often had a hard time getting the ball to Howard. 

Opposing tight ends

  • Will Mallory, Miami, 2-12 
  • Andrew May , Mercer, 1-7
  • Kemore Gamble, Florida 5-32
  • Grayson Gunter, Southern Miss 3-61

4] Young's historic night

In addition to Young setting a school record for the best completion percentage in a single game (minimum 20 completions), going 20-of-22 (.909) against the Golden Eagles, he also had five passing touchdowns and 313 yards.

That added up to a passer-efficiency rating of 276.3, and upped his season rating to 188.5. It should project him from No. 18 to somewhere in the top five nationally just ahead of next week's opponent, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral at 186.93.

Last year's Davey O'Brien Award winner Mac Jones topped that rating only once in a game he started, his first one after Tua Tagovailoa got hurt at Mississippi State in 2019. He was 10 for 12 for 275 yards and three passing touchdowns against Western Carolina. 

The passer rating is how the NCAA determines its annual passing champion. Additionally, Tagovailoa has the NCAA career record at 199.4, with Jones second at 197.6. 

5] Williams in the record book 

Not only was Williams the first player in Alabama history to have two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a single game, he tied the Crimson Tide career record as well. 

He's the second player to have two kickoff returns for touchdowns, joining Christion Jones, who had one during the 2012 season (Ole Miss), and the other in 2013 (Virginia Tech). 

Williams also set the Crimson Tide record for kickoff return average in a game (minimum three returns) by averaging 59.0 yards. It had previously been held by Kerry Goode with 197 yards on four returns, for a 49.3 average, against Boston College in 1984. 

Incidentally, Southern Miss was the first opponent to kick to him this season. 

Check out Christopher Walsh's notes column All Things CW that appears Fridays on BamaCentral.