DeVonta Smith on Tuf Borland Was the Biggest Mismatch of the National Title Game

In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: DeVonta Smith dominates Ohio State, Tuscaloosa lets loose in the streets and more.
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Good luck with that, Tuf

Monday night’s national championship game was the DeVonta Smith show, even though he only played one half before exiting with a dislocated finger. In just seven offensive series, Smith, this season’s Heisman Trophy winner, torched Ohio State to the tune of 215 yards on 12 catches and three touchdowns..

No Buckeyes defender could cover Smith. He was simply too fast and was put in all the right positions by outgoing Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

His hands were too good and his route-running was too crisp.

Nobody could cover him all season long, so why would it have been any different with Ohio State? The Buckeyes have some great players on defense, but Smith has proved over the course of 13 games that the only way he’s going to be held in check is by playing against an NFL defense.

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Ohio State would have needed to play a perfect game on defense to stop both Smith and the rushing threat of Najee Harris. Instead, the Buckeyes had coverage breakdowns like this one.

The worst example of busted coverage came on Smith’s third score of the night. He lined up in the slot, with three of Ohio State’s defensive backs covering other receivers and the fourth playing as a deep safety. That left middle linebacker Tuf Borland tasked with covering one of the fastest dudes in the sport.

There are very few people on Earth capable of covering DeVonta Smith. A Big Ten middle linebacker named Tuf is not one of them. Look at the heavy steps Borland takes right before Smith catches the ball. He’s trying so hard to catch up with Smith but he knows he just can’t do it. There’s no worse feeling for a defender than knowing you’re beat and there’s nothing you can do about it.

That ended up being the final catch of Smith’s Alabama career. It’s a real shame we didn’t get to see him continue his dominance in the second half, but that’s not a bad way to go out: streaking down the middle of the field past an outmatched defender and hauling in a perfectly thrown ball.

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