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on October 02, 2013 at 2:35 PM
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Asked about one of the most important plays of Saturday’s win against Ole Miss, Cody Mandell used it as an opportunity to declare unwavering confidence in his freshman long snapper.
A wayward snap from Cole Mazza sent Mandell scrambling in Saturday’s first quarter. If Mandell didn’t quickly gather himself, grab the ball and punt it 47 yards, the Rebels would have been in prime scoring position.
Mandell said Alabama’s specialists practice how to respond to bad snaps about once a week, but didn’t go into much more detail. Instead, he rallied behind Mazza, the nation’s highest-rated high school long snapper who has otherwise filled the shoes of Carson Tinker without any hiccups.
“You know that was one snap for Cole, and I have full faith and belief in Cole that he’s not going to do that again,” Mandell said. “We’ve been working on keeping our cool and just each snap is a new snap and each kick is a new kick.
“Every time I get up there, if I hit a shank, I can’t think ‘I don’t want to shank it,’ I want to think ‘What do I have to do to succeed on this play?'”
Mazza wowed Alabama’s coaches at multiple camps throughout his high school career. The Bakersfield, Calif., native flipped his commitment from UCLA to Alabama shortly after he was offered a scholarship in June 2012. Playing a position that rarely receives scholarship offers from a school such as Alabama, Mazza has worked with long-snapping guru Chris Rubio since 2010.
The zip Mazza puts on the ball has been a sight to behold for Mandell and quarterback AJ McCarron, who holds on field goals.
“Cole is a great deep snapper,” Mandell said early last month. “Coming in as a true freshman, never stepping on a field, and he didn’t have a bad snap in the Virginia Tech game. He throws the ball so fast. It whips back there. It almost hurts your hands.
“For field goals with AJ (McCarron) holding, he’s getting it to him as fast as he can … He’s an amazing guy, he has a great personality, and he can throw the ball really fast.”