Jaylen Waddle had himself a game. The third year wide receiver was usually stuck behind Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, and DeVonta Smith his first two seasons, though he rotated in and did plenty of damage; but Jeudy and Ruggs are in the NFL now.
Mac Jones targeted Waddle early and often. The junior wideout had 7 receptions for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half alone. He added one more catch in the second half to finish with 8 receptions on 10 targets for 134 yards with the 2 touchdowns. Missouri was so afraid of Waddle’s return skills that they did everything they could to avoid letting him field a punt, and it worked for them.
1st and 10: Alabama is in the pistol with three receivers to the right. From outside in, they are John Metchie (#8), Jaylen Waddle (#17), and DeVonta Smith (#6). Waddle runs a deep post route. He beats the cornerback on him; but, because of how far the ball is traveling, the safety has time to come over. Waddle makes a spectacular jumping catch and immediately does what he can to protect himself. He gets nailed by the safety, but he hangs on and pops right back up. It’s a huge 46 yard gain.
3rd and 7: Alabama lines up in the shotgun. Waddle motions right to left to give the Tide three receivers on the left. Outside in again, it’s Metchie, Smith, and Waddle. There’s nothing fancy here. Waddle just blows right by the cornerback, and the safety never has time to get in position to make a play. Mac Jones delivers it on target right before getting drilled, and Waddle makes the easy catch for a touchdown.
1st and 10: Jones is under center with Brian Robinson in the backfield. Waddle, Smith, and Forristall are on the left. Jones fakes the handoff, and Waddle turns and runs back like he’s going to get the ball on an end around. He smoothly stops and changes direction, running back out to the left. Jones floats the pass out in front, so Waddle has some forward momentum. He beats the corner and leaps for the endzone. Unfortunately, he elbow hits the pylon while the ball is just shy of the goal line; so Waddle is denied the score.
2nd and 12: Alabama has trips left again, and Waddle is the #2 receiver. He takes a step forward before dropping back and turning for the screen. Smith does a great job on his block, and Metchie does his job as well. Waddle first shoots through the wide gap between his two blockers before cutting to his left to avoid the oncoming defensive back. He loops around, leaving the defender behind. Waddle jukes and embarrasses another defender. Then, with a gaggle of Missouri players surrounding him, he dives forward to pick up an extra 3 yards and the first down.
3rd and 6: Waddle is in the slot on the left. He runs a go route, blowing by the corner and the safety who’s supposed to be providing help. Waddle has a step on both defensive backs, and Jones drops a dime out in front of him. Waddle secures the ball and hangs on despite some contact from the corner at the end. Touchdown Alabama.
3rd and 12: Waddle is wide left before motioning in behind Smith. He’s one-on-one with the cornerback. You can see him release to the inside; and he breaks to the left at some point, ending up at the line to gain. Waddle has some separation; and that’s all Bryce Young needs after stepping up into the pocket. It’s a great throw, and Waddle makes the first down catch.