For an interior defensive lineman, short fourth downs and goal-line stands seem like the most exciting situations a football game can offer the position—their shot to get low, blow through an aggressive wall of meat, and make the play in the backfield. But as Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne discovered, if you don’t do the first part, your shit is getting wrecked.
With 4:38 left in the spectacular fourth quarter of Monday night’s CFP Championship, Wayne Gallman barreled into the end zone to give Clemson a 28-24 lead. From the angle shown on TV, Gallman’s score looked like a run-of-the-mill goal-line handoff because that’s exactly what it was.
Thanks to College GameDay, however, we now know a run-of-the-mill goal-line handoff means that someone on the opposing side might be turned into a human sled. Keep in mind that Payne weighs over 300 pounds, squats 600, bench-presses 500 (per AL.com), and once did this to an LSU lineman:
Payne was solid in the middle for the Crimson Tide this season, and played his best game of the season last night with five tackles, including half a sack and half a tackle for loss.
On this play, his assignment appears to have been to cut Clemson left guard Taylor Hearn and clear the way for linebacker Reuben Foster to lay a shot on Gallman. But before Payne could fulfill his responsibility, center Jay Guillermo double-teamed him with Hearn and sent the Alabama lineman sliding backwards, arms outstretched, hands grasping for grass, straight into Foster. Gallman was able to follow the practice drill and dive at least three yards into the end zone. (Hearn made the extra effort to be a dick by shoving Payne’s head into the ground after the play.)
Having two Clemson linemen, Gallman, and Foster piled on top of him for second down wouldn’t necessarily have been a better option for Payne, but it certainly wouldn’t have been much worse than the actual result.