TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jerry Jeudy was surprised at how little he had to do to make a big play.

Facing third and 9 on Alabama’s second offensive possession of the game, Jeudy recalled not seeing an Ole Miss defender in front of him, so all he had to do was run … straight.

“They were trying to disguise it (the coverage),” Jeudy said Saturday night. “I guess they didn’t disguise it very well.”

Ole Miss showed blitz before dropping defenders back in coverage, but it was too late. Jeudy flashed his acceleration off the line of scrimmage — almost immediately passing the entire Ole Miss secondary — and showed his breakaway speed to finish off the score. Fellow sophomore Tua Tagovailoa hit Jeudy with a beautiful throw in stride for the 79-yard touchdown pass.

Later in the game, Jeudy caught a perfectly thrown fade route from Jalen Hurts for his second score of the game. He finished the night with 3 catches for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns.

“Jerry is a hard worker. He’s a very gifted guy,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He’s got good hands. He comes out of the break really well. He can beat man-to-man coverage. So, he’s a pretty complete player for us.”

Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Given all of the Tide’s skill position talent and Tagovailoa’s ability to see the entire field, Alabama is spreading the ball around in the passing game more this season than in any of the Saban era.

Jeudy has been the biggest beneficiary to this point. He has accounted for half of the 12 touchdowns thrown by Tagovailoa and Hurts.

“He’s real special,” cornerback Trevon Diggs said. “In practice, he’ll talk to us and get us fired up. That pushes us to go harder to make it harder on him. I feel like with us making it hard on him, he’ll do better things in the game now. I guess the game comes easier to him. He’s a real special kid. He’s got a lot of talent, and he’s really good.”

Jeudy is the latest in a line of elite wide receivers Alabama has pulled out of South Florida, following the path of Amari Cooper (2012-14) and Calvin Ridley (2015-17). As the clear go-to options on their teams, Cooper and Ridley had breakout freshman seasons before taking a dip statistically during their sophomore campaigns.

Jeudy is doing the opposite. He leads the SEC in touchdown receptions (6) and yards per catch (26.09) and is second in the league in receiving yards (287).

Jeudy’s touchdowns and yards are already more than he had last season (2 TDs, 264 yards), and he’s only three catches away from tying his total from last year (14).

At Alabama, Cooper posted 124 receptions, 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014. Jeudy likely won’t get close to the receptions and yards, but that touchdown mark is reachable if he keeps up a pace close to this.

“He’s a rare talent,” Alabama running back Damien Harris said. “He can do it all — he’s fast, runs good routes, clean routes, he’s got great hands, super-explosive guy.”