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August 31, 2013

TALKIN' TIDE: Jones' historic night takes away from iffy offensive effort

ATLANTA — Christion Jones had a very special season opener — and it's a good thing because Alabama's offense wasn't always as explosive as it was cracked out to be.

The speedster took the top-ranked Tide's very first touch of the 2013 campaign for a touchdown on a 72-yard punt return and later tacked on another score on a now-you-have-me, now-you-don't 94-yard kickoff return. Jones added one more touchdown on a 38-yard heave from A.J. McCarron to cap off a sizzling special teams and all-around performance in the top-ranked Tide's 35-10 win over Virginia Tech.

Jones' kickoff return will likely remain on Alabama's highlight reel for the rest of the season. The junior took a lick around his own 30-yard line but somehow stayed upright and snuck to the left sideline, which he clung to the rest of the way to the end zone.

The Hokies continued to kick to Jones in the second half — for some reason — and he made them pay for it. The wideout went off for a 19-yard return to Virginia Tech's 47 a little more than midway through the third quarter, setting up his 38-yard pass-and-catch with McCarron four plays later.

“You really don't ever want them to ever stop kicking to you,” Jones said. “But the blocking scheme set up great for me tonight, and we could have even had a few more great returns.”

Other than that deep scoring connection, big plays were few and far between for the Tide's highly touted offense.

T.J. Yeldon showed early signs of a sophomore slump with plenty of ineffective carries — his 2-yard touchdown late in the first quarter was a plus, though — and McCarron had trouble standing still and upright behind a new-look offensive line missing three All-Americans from a year ago. The fact the quarterback was spotted wearing a walking boot due to an ingrown toenail probably didn't help matters any, though McCarron claimed otherwise.

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