One highlight to Alabama’s 48-0 win over Kent State Saturday was sophomore running back Xavian Marks’ 75-yard punt return touchdown. After the game Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban discussed his desire to have role players step up to become impact players on special teams so that Saban doesn’t have to put starters at risk.
Heading into play against Kent State starting safety Eddie Jackson had been serving as Alabama’s punt returner and he had already notched one return for a touchdown this season. Saban went with Marks against Kent State because Jackson was banged up and it sounds like Saban would like to be able to use Marks going forward.
“We need more guys to be able to play on these teams so we don’t have to play guys that are starters, especially if they can make a significant contribution,” Saban said. “We think the might be able to be able to do that as a returner and I think it was good experience for him today.”
“Well we’ve been wanting to give him an opportunity to get back there but he let two balls hit the ground that gave them a lot of field position,” Saban said. “So probably about 50 yards’ worth. I know he had a punt return for a touchdown. I know he’s a very explosive guy. He’s got to make good choices and decisions because possession of the ball is the most important thing.”
Saban knows Marks has room to grow, but look for him to get more opportunities to shine returning kicks in the future.