No. 1 Alabama has suspended wide receiver DeVonta Smith for half of Saturday’s home game vs. rival Tennessee after being ejected in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over Texas A&M, coach Nick Saban revealed on Monday.
Things got heated during the closing minutes of the game when Smith got into it with Aggies safety Leon O’Neal. Smith was blocking O’Neal on a run by Brian Robinson when the two got together. It appeared that O’Neal took a swing at Smith before Smith fired back. Both players were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, but only Smith was ejected for throwing a punch.
“The fact that Smitty got kicked out last game for retaliation is something that really can’t be tolerated, and I think it’s a lesson that all players need to learn from in terms of you can’t make emotional decisions on the field, you can’t do what you feel like doing,” Saban said. “You have to have enough discipline to walk away, even if you’re provoked into something that you don’t like.”
Saban would later go on to confirm the punishment would include an absence from one half of action against the Vols, though he didn’t specify whether Smith would miss the first or last 30 minutes of the game. The SEC has the ability to review plays and further punish players anytime that there is “flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct.”
“We’ll have to wait on the conference office to see what his status is, so it was offsetting fouls,” Saban said. “Obviously, their player shouldn’t have punched him, but he also should have had the discipline not to hit him back, aight, because that’s a foul. We would have gotten a 15-yard penalty, and that would have basically ended the game.”
Smith is the top receiver on a Crimson Tide team that has four bona fide superstars outside for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to work with. He has 38 catches for 636 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. He set single-game school records with 274 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in the win over Ole Miss on Sept. 28.
He was also one of four Alabama players suspended for unspecified violation of team rules for the first quarter of this year’s season-opener vs. Duke.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder first gained national notoriety in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, when he caught the walk-off, 41-yard touchdown in overtime to give the Crimson Tide a 26-23 win over Georgia to claim the 2017 national title.
Alabama and Tennessee will square off Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
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