By now, you have seen the play over and over again on the highlight shows. Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron lofting a pass over the onrushing LSU Tigers defender into the hands of TJ Yeldon as the freshman skated toward the endzone to put the tide on top.
None of it happens without junior wide receiver Kevin Norwood.
With just over :90 seconds on the clock, standing inside their own thirty yard line the Tide needed a receiver to step up. Freshman sensation Amari Cooper had been taken out of the game with injury as McCarron struggled without his favorite target on the field.
However just as he has time and time again, the D’Iberville, Mississippi native rose to the occasion. First play of the final drive for Alabama: 18 yards from McCarron to Norwood. Then again on the second play, McCarron went back to the well, this time for another 15 yards as Norwood reached for the stars, toe tapping in bounds before sliding out of bounds to save the clock. Third play of the drive, it was Norwood again coming to the aid of his junior quarterback, diving toward the sidelines, dragging his feet in bounds as his body propelled out of bounds, putting the Tide at the LSU 28 yards line while again stopping the clock.
It was textbook, but it is just what Norwood does. He is a tireless worker who busts his tail for 60 minutes because he doesn’t know when he’ll be called on to make the play. Then when his name is called, he rises to the occasion time and time again. In a world where receivers are known for their diva-like attitudes,Norwood is just the opposite. Quiet and patient, knowing his time will come.
However it wasn’t just the final drive. Think back to the final drive of the first half when McCarron broke the pocket and Norwood broke with him, catching the quarterback’s bullet while gliding out of bounds at the nine yard line. The next play it was McCarron who spread the defense and charged forward for the score, getting six when most would have settled for three, giving Alabama a 14-3 lead heading into halftime.
However it wasn’t just Saturday night in Baton Rouge. It was January 9th 2011 in the Superdome with Marquis Maze out of the game. Norwood worked against the heralded secondary of LSU, including the defensive player of the year Tyrann Mathieu quietly catching 4 passes for 78 yards, making the needed play time and time again.
Saturday night’s play from McCarron to Yeldon is a play that will go down in Crimson Tide lore. Just don’t forget about Kevin Norwood when you talk about the drive.