Last year’s loss to Auburn was excruciating. If several plays in that game go differently – we’ve talked about them here – the outcome is different. That’s what makes it excruciating, I guess.
One of those plays was Mark Barron’s apparent whiff on a Cam Newton pass to Terrell Zachery that resulted in a 70 yard touchdown on Auburn’s second play from from scrimmage in the second half.
The play allowed Auburn to close their deficit to 24-14 with 14 minutes left in the third quarter. The quick score had effectively eliminated Alabama’s dominance in the first half and allowed the Tigers back into the game. Just like that.
Barron is a headhunting ball hawk and one of the best safeties ever to play at Alabama – if not the best. We had seen him make this play time and time again. That’s why it was such a shock to see him whiff.
But now we read the rest of the story, courtesy of ESPN’s Chris Low:
“It eats at me knowing that people think I was just out there playing like that and didn’t know I was hurt,” Barron said. “ I don’t like that, and I don’t like that I couldn’t make the play. But it is what it is.”
“The bad thing is that I didn’t know I couldn’t raise my arm up until that play,” Barron recalled. “I knew I’d hurt it in the first half on their first touchdown. I didn’t know how bad. I knew I was in pain, and I also knew I wasn’t coming out of the game. But that play is when I found out I wasn’t able to lift my arm.”
“I felt like at the time that everything happens for a reason,” Barron said. “I’m happy with my decision and glad I did come back. Things are looking good for us. I always felt like I made the right decision, but even more now.”
Barron didn’t make the play because he couldn’t lift his arm.
But that’s the way last season went for the Tide. Twisted ankles for Courtney Upshaw and Marcel Dareus. A banged-up Trent Richardson. An injured Barrett Jones. A recovering Dont’a Hightower. As a friend recalled yesterday, “It’s just like it wasn’t meant to be.”
In hind sight, he’s obviously right. It wasn’t meant to be. But things are different this year.