Canadian receiver John Metchie III played a critical role in DeVonta Smith’s stat sheet-stuffing performance at Louisiana State University Saturday night.
Smith caught eight passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns while Metchie III had four receptions for 58 yards in a decisive 55-17 win. Two well executed plays by both pass catchers led to the start of a stellar performance from Smith.
“He’s an outstanding player for our team. He’s probably done as much this year for our team as any player that we’ve ever had,” head coach Nick Saban said in his post-game video conference.
“I don’t think there’s many players in the country that has done more for their team than Smitty does for our team.”
His first touchdown of the game came in the second quarter. Metchie III and Smith executed a switch route with two defensive backs covering the Brampton native. Quarterback Mac Jones hit Smith in stride for a 65-yard touchdown. On Alabama’s next possession, Metchie III went underneath and Smith over the top for a 61-yard touchdown.
In the final minute of the first half, Jones threw the ball to the back of the end zone, Smith went up and snatched it with one hand for the 20-yard touchdown. That was the fourth touchdown pass of the game for Jones as the Heisman Trophy candidate completed 20-of-28 attempts for 385 yards.
Smith leads all NCAA Division I receivers with 1,305 yards and 15 touchdowns on 80 grabs. It was his sixth time eclipsing the 100-yard mark, second game over 200 yards through nine outings and fourth-straight game with multiple touchdowns. He should be a Heisman Trophy candidate and projects as a surefire first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“It was alright, there was some stuff that I felt I left out there, that I wish I could’ve did different, but we won and that’s all that really matters,” Smith said regarding his outing in his post-game video conference.
“I just trust the game plan and execute the plays that coach calls. If I’m in the Heisman race, I’m in it, but I’m not really focused on it. I’m ultimately here to win a championship.”
Meanwhile, Metchie III has 35 catches for 648 yards and six touchdowns. It’s been a breakout season for the six-foot, 195-pound playmaker who averages 18.5 yards per reception. He’s proved the ability to perform on the prime time stage with more chances to come.
Alabama entered the rivalry in Death Valley ranked No. 1 in the NCAA and remain undefeated at 9-0. With the victory, Saban’s group clinched the Southeastern Conference’s West Division and a spot in the SEC Championship Game.
The University of Florida (8-1) clinched the East Division on Saturday with a 31-19 win at Tennessee, led by Heisman Trophy front-runner Kyle Trask who completed 35-of-49 passes for 433 yards and four touchdowns — adding to his Football Bowl Subdivision-leading total of 38 through the air.
That sets up a highly-anticipated match-up at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta — Florida versus Alabama kicks off Saturday, December 19 at 8 p.m. ET.