Alabama lost its top remaining receiver in the second quarter of its 33-18 College Football Playoff championship game loss to Georgia when Jameson Williams went down after making a long reception.
Williams fell to the field after a non-contact injury, hyperextending his knee. He had to be helped off the field before he walked into the Crimson Tide’s locker room.
Williams did not return to the game, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, as Alabama coach Nick Saban revealed during his postgame news conference.
“He actually wanted to play in the second half,” Saban said of Williams. “And the medical staff wouldn’t let him, which I think was smart because he has a future as a football player.”
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Williams, a junior, posted 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns during his first season at Alabama after transferring from Ohio State. He is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. As such, Saban wanted to protect Williams’ future after his strong performance for the Crimson Tide during the season.
“This guy contributed tremendously to our team all year,” Saban said. “He has great speed. He’s a vertical threat. I think our offensive coaches did a great job of utilizing his talent this year. He’s been very productive. So anytime you lose players like this, it has an impact on your team.”
Indeed, Alabama was impacted by Williams’ loss. They had already lost their other top receiver, John Metchie, to a torn ACL during the SEC Championship Game. With both out of action, the Crimson Tide had to rely on veteran Slade Holden along with a collection of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores — Traeshon Holden, Ja’Corey Brooks and Agiye Hall — to carry the load at receiver.
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While the young playmakers made some important catches, their lacking experience both on the field and working with Bryce Young made it difficult for Alabama to consistently move the ball against a stalwart Georgia defense.
Still, Saban praised them for their efforts in attempting to replace Williams.
“I’m not disappointed in how they responded to that,” Saban said.
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As for Williams, he returned to the Alabama sideline during the second half wearing his jersey over a crimson sweatsuit. He stood alongside Metchie and cheered his team on in the defeat.
Williams was walking on the Alabama sideline, but the team couldn’t provide an update on the severity of his injury after the game.
“We won’t know the extent of the knee injury until we get an MRI,” Saban said.
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