TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When the play got called back because of a penalty, Alabama just ran it again to the other side.
AJ McCarron looked right, fired a screen pass into the chest of Amari Cooper and let his receiver do the rest. It was probably better that they got a do-over anyway.
Cooper took the pass 54 yards for a touchdown, blowing by Tennessee defenders for the first score in a 45-10 rout of the Volunteers.
[Watch the play here, the first play of the highlights.]
Cooper caught five passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in the game and finally looked like the explosive and dynamic receiver who made him so valuable to the Crimson Tide offense last year.
Fans had been waiting on his "breakout" game, but in reality, it was more like a steady climb. After sitting out the Colorado State game and not getting in on the action against Georgia State, Cooper has slowly, but surely, worked his way back into the Alabama offense.
On Saturday, he finally arrived.
Cooper's numbers were decent, but they would have been monstrous were it not for a deep ball in the third quarter that he caught for a score but got flagged for offensive pass interference. Cooper burned the Volunteer defense, getting tangled up with a defensive back in the process, and went 40 yards for the score, but the play was called back.
The fans disagreed with the call, as did many college football experts, including Former NFL Vice President of Officiating and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira:
Those asking about the offensive pass interference penalty at Alabama, I didn't like that one either. Not enought shove and separation.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 26, 2013
Catch or not, though, Cooper showed Alabama, the SEC and the country he's back to being one of the most dominant receivers in college football. And that's bad news for the rest of the country.
Alabama's offense is already deadly efficient. The Crimson Tide piled up 479 yards on 65 plays and continue to suffocate their opponents on the line of scrimmage.
But in Cooper, Alabama has an explosive threat that teams always have to be aware of.
Last year, Cooper had a huge game against Tennessee and got stronger as the season went on. By the end of the year, he was the most dominant player on the field, shining especially bright in the SEC and BCS championship games.
With Alabama heading into the final stretch of its SEC schedule against some of the best teams in the league, it will need all of the help it can get.
Now that Cooper looks to have returned to his dominant form, the Crimson Tide could have an extremely explosive offense to go along with its suffocating defense.