Da’Ron Payne has been a beast of a player his two season at the Capstone. He won’t wow you with gaudy stats, of course; but he’s still making an impact. Payne came in as a five star recruit, and the #1 player in the state.
The 6’2, 315lbs defensive lineman saw extensive action as a true freshman, even earning three starts. With the loss of early round draft picks A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed, Payne took advantage and solidified himself as a starter.
2 and 7: I included this play in my breakdown after the Ole Miss game, but it certainly deserves a second watch. Payne rushes from the right side of the line in the A gap, and the right guard stymies him initially. Payne then moves to left, but not before casually jerking the guard forward, causing him to stumble. Ryan Anderson’s pressure forced Chad Kelly to his left, so Payne moves back in that direction. After the strip sack, Payne is now in perfect position for the scoop and score.
1st and 10: Alabama has a sizeable, but not insurmountable lead over the Razorbacks. Arkansas has had an impressive 12 play, 70 yard drive so far. They’re on Alabama’s 12 yard line, threatening to make this a two possession game after converting on 4th and 10.
The Hogs are in 22 personnel (two tight ends, two running backs). One tight end’s on the left side of the I-formation, and the other starts wide right before motioning back towards the line. Payne, one of three down linemen, is the 0 tech nose tackle, heads-up over the center.
QB Austin Allen fakes the pitch right, and the offensive moves that direction to help sell the play fake. Rashaan Evans, lined up as an inside linebacker, comes on a blitz from the middle; and the center picks him up. The right guard is stepping to the right and should pick up Payne, but Payne reads it correctly and takes a step to his right. The guard tries to correct, but Payne is already shooting past his outside shoulder. He reaches out in vain for Payne, but it’s too late. Allen has barely even turned to the left and Payne is on top of him for the 8 yard sack. With Payne forcing a 2nd and 18, Arkansas has to pass on the next play; and this happens.
1st and 10: Payne is lined up as the 3 technique (outside shoulder of the guard) on the left. He launches himself into the right guard, who is not at all prepared for violence and suddenness of it. Payne destroys the poor guard and sends him flying to the ground. Danny Etling turned and saw his impending doom, giving him just enough time to escape the Payne (get it, like pain…ha...). Etling just sails the ball out of bounds.
2nd and 6: Payne is at the 3 tech spot on the right side of the line. State is in shotgun with the H-back and the running back to their left. The slot receiver motions into the backfield on QB Nick Fitzgerald’s right hip, and he gets the handoff. Payne gets his arms inside the right guard’s and drives him several steps into the backfield, holding the offensive lineman away with just one arm. He keeps his eyes on the ball carrier and sees him cut inside. Payne sheds the blocker, makes first contact, and stands him up with a little help from Ryan Anderson.
2nd and 7: Payne is heads up over the center. He controls the block, shuffling to his right while watching the backfield. The right guard chips Payne, but it doesn’t faze him. The running back plows into the middle, and Payne comes off the block to join in the gang tackle with several other defenders. Nothing fancy here, just another example of his making run defense look routine.
1st and 10: Wayne Gallman rushed for 12 yards and a first down on Clemson’s first offensive play, and the Tigers go hurry-up. Deshaun Watson’s in an empty backfield. He looks left when he gets the snap, but that’s all he has time to do. Payne swipes the left guard’s hands away and shows off a nice swim move to get past him. Watson tries cutting to his left, but Payne wraps him up. Jonathan Allen comes in to help clean up, and they each get half a sack.
1st and 10: After a beautiful punt and special teams play, Alabama has Clemson pinned inside their one yard line. Payne is line up over the center, and he explodes off the snap. He gets under the center’s pads and uses his whole body to drive the offensive lineman several yards back, and Payne knocks him flat on his rear end. Payne doesn’t touch Gallman as he shoots by for a gain of a couple, but I wanted to include this include this one to show off Payne’s power and strength.
1st and 10: Payne is over the right guard. He drives the guard backwards during Watson’s drop; and Watson, seeing a closing pocket, switches gears and tries to shoot up the middle. Payne hasn’t lost track of the ball and easily comes off his block, grabs Watson by the waist, and stops the scramble for just a three yard gain.