Marquis Maze's first punt return of the day gave the Alabama offense a short field from which to operate and helped set up an early 7-0 lead.
When a team has such a runaway performance against such an overmatched opponent, there are quite a few options about who to give the "player of the week" nod to. I was tempted to give it to Trey DePriest given his monstrous debut and he certainly would've been a worthy choice given that he lead the team with 10 tackles. I had a few others I considered as well but ultimately decided to give it to Marquis Maze.
The last three years we've known Julio Jones was the keystone of the receiving corps. In his absence though, we were a little unsure about who would step up. Would it be Maze? Would it be Darius Hanks? We were hoping it would be Duron Carter, but given that it took him forever to become academically eligible we began to wonder if he'd even ever be rostered. Not only did we have Julio's absence to contend with, we also have a QB battle between two extremely talented, but ultimately untested quarterbacks. Without Carter and Hanks in the picture for the first game, Maze answered the call on Saturday. Eight receptions for 118 yards is a solid outing even if it is against Kent State. To put his performance in historical perspective, his 118 yards in this game is 21% of his total receiving yards in 2010. Outside of Eddie Lacy's 48 yard reception out of the backfield, Maze is the only player to reel in a pass of 20 yards or more and he did it three times: 24 yards (TD), 26 yards, 21 yards. It should also be noted that his 26 yard grab is what gave us even a remote shot at a 54 yard field goal attempt before the break.
His first punt return, for 27 yards, put the ball on the Kent State 36 and gave the Tide offense a short field from which to work and helped greatly in establishing an early 7-0 lead. Maze's second reception of the day was the 24 yard TD catch on the second drive that helped put Alabama up 14-0. So not only did he have a big day as far as numbers were concerned, some of his bigger plays came at opportune times that surely helped settle the nerves of our young QBs. I know he muffed a punt and at times danced around a bit too much going east and west rather than going forward after receiving a punt, but overall I think he helped settle things down early and let our QBs operate with less pressure. That's the kind of thing you expect from a senior that's been around a while, that's played in big games and won championships even if he's never been the star player. The good numbers and the leadership role are what earned Marquis Maze "Player of the Game" against Kent State.