Maze looking to take pressure off Jones
by Michael Casagrande
Sports Writer
Aug 18, 2009 | 1629 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Marquis Maze, who had two touchdowns in 2008, is one of several returning wide receivers who will look to force teams to play Julio Jones in single coverage. Photo: Anniston Star file photo
Alabama's Marquis Maze, who had two touchdowns in 2008, is one of several returning wide receivers who will look to force teams to play Julio Jones in single coverage. Photo: Anniston Star file photo
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TUSCALOOSA — He's fast, if not very big. He'll receive a lot of attention (from the media) for not receiving much attention (from opposing defenses).

But a camera hound, Marquis Maze is not.

The speedy wide receiver from Birmingham smiled when he confessed to being "camera shy," when walking toward a group of television photographers Monday morning.

As one of the top candidates to be the No. 2 receiver behind super sophomore Julio Jones, Maze will have to get used to the attention.

Coach Nick Saban has been high on the 5-foot-10, 179-pound sophomore coming out of spring practice. And while he did not get a catch in Saturday's scrimmage, Saban said Maze "has consistently made plays this camp."

In a postseason evaluation meeting, Saban told Maze that he needed to be more consistent in all phases, such as practice habits and route running.

By the A-Day Game in April, Maze was clearly taking a step toward being the top guy to complement Jones.

He caught a team-high five passes for 87 yards and ran a pair of end-arounds for a total 47 yards to earn co-MVP honors.

Unlike the tall and powerful Jones, Maze is shifty and hard to corral in open spaces. He claimed to be "the fastest guy on the team," after his big performance that closed spring practice.

That quickness makes him a threat to keep defenses honest and away from overplaying Jones.

"The big play should be there and will be there," Maze said. "We just have to make the most of our opportunities."

He would not name one or two of the emerging receivers competing for the job as No. 2, but said "each and every one of us," was making plays in practice. After Jones' six catches and 100 yards in the scrimmage, Darius Hanks put up the second best stat line, with four catches and 37 yards.

A sporadic starter as a redshirt freshman in 2008, Maze played in all 14 games and finished the year with 11 receptions and 137 yards. His four receptions against Tulane were a team-high, as he picked up 22 yards in the 20-6 win on the season's second Saturday.

A 26-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of a 24-20 win against Ole Miss helped the Tide build enough of a lead to survive a second-half comeback effort from the SEC West Division rival. Then, against Auburn, he caught a touchdown pass from the quarterback leading the team this fall, Greg McElroy, in the closing minutes of the 36-0 win.

However, he did not catch another pass the rest of the season, playing limited minutes in losses to Florida and Utah.

Again, that drop-off was a result of lagging consistency, Maze said.

As the 2009 season looms just 18 days from today, each of the wide receivers are learning multiple positions within the unit. Maze has practiced at three different spots this August: X-, H- and Z-receiver.

He's also competing for time as a kick returner, where his speed would certainly be a weapon. As a freshman, Maze returned one kickoff for 19 yard and two punts for eight combined yards.

One player who said he's happy to play against Maze only in practice is Javier Arenas, an All-American kick returner and defensive back. Arenas deals with Maze's speed on a daily basis on the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in pass coverage.

"You've got to be on point," Arenas said. "You've got to be focused on a guy like him. He's sudden. He's going to make a quick move and get out of there, so you have to be on your Ps and Qs with him."
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Maze looking to take pressure off Jones by Michael Casagrande
Sports Writer

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