Alabama Football Swagger: 2017 Week 1 All-Stars

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02: Damien Harris
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02: Damien Harris /

A weekly article series examining two players walking with swagger for the Alabama football team. This week – Damien Harris & Shaun Dion Hamilton

Now to fully understand what the Alabama Football Swagger is, it means to have reason to walk with a confident, proud air around you. Some people mistake it for vanity, arrogance, or being pompous. This incorrect assumption is not what we mean. The Swagger is about knowing that your deeds showed off your amazing skills to the football-loving public.

Each of this week’s Swagger players had a reason to be strutting after the game, be it for different reasons. One was able to produce despite having a lack of a push from the offensive line, while the other was a one-man wrecking crew on defense.

Offense – Damien Harris

This junior showed why he became the Crimson Tide’s primary tailback, once Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry went to the NFL. It wasn’t the breakout start of last season, against USC where he rushed for 138 yards; however, he earned every one of the 73 yards he gained on nine rushing attempts against Florida State. With the O-Line having problems pushing up to the next level of the FSU defense, Harris showed explosiveness and power.

Many Alabama football fans expect the same from fellow running back Bo Scarbrough, but he could only muster 40 yards on 15 attempts. Harris’ ability to hit the edges as well as between the tackles helped him move past Scarbrough for the team lead in rushing.

Harris averaged 8.1 yards a carry, according to ESPNHis longest run was for 34 yards, forcing the FSU defense to take note of him whenever he was in the backfield. That intimidation led to a few play-action passes by Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts that stretched the field. Harris capped off his night with a rushing touchdown, putting the rest of college football on notice that he will be a force to be reckoned with this season.

Defense – Shaun Dion Hamilton

With Rashaan EvansChristian Miller, and Terrell Lewis missing in action as outside linebackers, Crimson Tide fans may start having heart palpitations; however, Hamilton’s performance in the middle will help to calm their nerves.

Hamilton was a buzzsaw, ripping through FSU’s receiving routes while allowing the outside linebackers take turns blitzing with the D-Line. The man-zone mixing worked and Hamilton’s statistics were the proof.

Hamilton led the team with eight total tackles, five were solo. He even had a sack of his own, when FSU’s quarterback Deondre Francois was flushed out of the pocket. The 6-foot senior from Montgomery, Alabama took his 235-pound frame and moved so quickly around the field that FSU’s offense didn’t know what to do about him.

SEC Sports has Hamilton ranked sixth in the country in total tackles, proving that this one-man wrecking crew will allow anyone who fills in for the OLB situation to blitz with ease. Who wouldn’t feel confident about leaving their defensive zone with Hamilton watching their back?

Final Thoughts

The Alabama football team’s best weapon is its depth. All anyone would need to do to see it would be to have watched the game against Florida State on Saturday night. Harris’ strength and speed allows the coaching staff to feel confident about fixing the offensive line assignments in the next few weeks. The same could be said about the OLB injuries with Hamilton.

Next: Alabama Football: Injury worries dampen enthusiasm for FSU win

With three games against likely weaker opponents, until a possible true test against Ole Miss, Alabama has time to tinker with their lineups to find the right fit on offense and defense. Harris and Hamilton have reason to swagger around campus with that in mind.

Around campus, mind you, doesn’t mean the practice field. Head coach Nick Saban might knock the swagger out of them if they show it too prominently.