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Alabama Football Film Room: Saivion Smith steps back into the starting line-up

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And he now leads the team in interceptions.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Saivion Smith opened the season as the starting cornerback opposite Trevon Diggs. He was replaced by the true freshman and former 5 star Patrick Surtain II in the Ole Miss game and spent the next couple weeks coming off the bench.

With the injury to Diggs, however, Smith was thrust back into the starting line-up, against future NFL draft pick Drew Lock. And Smith performed admirably, hauling in two interceptions and notching four tackles.

2nd and 3: It’s Missouri’s first possession after another quick-strike, opening possession touchdown for the Alabama offense. The Tigers are in shotgun with four wideouts. They have trips left, and Smith (#4) is one-on-one against 6’5, 255lb TE Albert Okwuebunam at the bottom as the boundary corner (short side of the field). He’s in press, and he jams the big-bodied tight end.. Missouri QB Drew Lock immediately tries to pick on Smith, but it turns out to be a big mistake. Smith has kept his hand on Okwuebunam while running stride for stride with him. He allows zero separation. Smith watches Okwuebunam, and he turns his head back to look for the ball after seeing his man do so. Smith is in perfect position, makes a nifty interception, and returns it 33 yards.

3rd and 12: Saivion Smith taketh, and Saivion Smith giveth. Mizzou is in the gun with twins on either side. Smith is the boundary corner again, and Xavier McKinney (#15) is on the slot receiver (Okwuebunam again) on this side. Jalen Knox and Okwuebunam cross, and Okwuebunam gets a free release. This gives him a step on Smith, and that’s all Lock needs. Smith can’t recover, Lock throws a well-placed ball, and Okwuebunam makes a good catch.

3rd and 11: Smith is in press coverage on the lone receiver at the bottom. We can’t tell what route the receiver runs, but it’s at least to the sticks and Smith sticks with him in man coverage. The Missouri running back releases into the flat as a safety valve; and, with good downfield coverage, that’s where Lock go. Smith sees this, comes off his man, and makes an excellent open field tackle to prevent the first down.

4th and 4: Smith is the field corner this time. He lets the receiver get a clean release inside, knowing he has safety help; and the receiver runs an inside breaking route. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Lock has no time. Isaiah Buggs (#49) and Anfernee Jennings (#33) run a twist, and Jennings slices right between the left tackle and guard. Lock just heaves the ball towards the back corner of the endzone, but his receiver has no chance to readjust. Smith, however, is able to get back outside and makes the easy pick.