Alabama Football: Entire defense given POTW by Tide staff

Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football: For the first time in history the entire Crimson Tide defensive starters won POTW honors.

How good was the Alabama football defense on Saturday night against Mississippi State? The source that matters most, the Crimson Tide coaching staff, gave the performance high marks. Fourteen  Alabama Crimson Tide defenders were earned Player of the Week (POTW) honors from Nick Saban and his staff.

Nick Saban has long been parsimonious when praising players. Earning a POTW distinction from the legendary coach is significant. After Saturday night’s shutout of Mississippi State, nearly the entire primary defensive rotation earned POTW honors. Never before under Nick Saban has an entire defensive unit been so recognized. Thorough research into Alabama football records might reveal no previous Alabama football coach has awarded an entire starting-plus unit.

Alabama football fans are more cautiously pleased than excited. A shutout over a one-win team does not meet the high expectations of a Crimson Tide defense. Looking at SEC Team Stats does not give the shutout much more clout. The Bulldogs are No. 5 in the SEC in passing yards-per-game. The Bulldogs threw 48 passes against the Crimson Tide. The result was 163 yards gained through the air.

Mississippi State is currently No. 11 in the SEC in average, yards-per-game, at 348.8 yards. They gained 200 yards on the Tide. The Bulldogs gained only 37 yards on the ground Saturday night, but they were already No. 14 in the SEC in rushing, yards-per-game before facing the Tide defense.

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Mike Leach’s offense has struggled since its season-opener performance over LSU. Currently, the Bulldogs are No. 13 in the SEC, averaging only 14.8 points-per-game. Stopping such an inept offense might not warrant high praise.

Except, the game has changed so much, shutouts of Power Five teams are uncommon. In the effort and focus seen on the field and in comments made after the game, it was obvious the Crimson Tide defense wanted to make a statement. It did. There were few missed assignments and better tackling than earlier in the season. Future games will define how much progress has been made.

For now, Alabama football fans should be reassured from the positive reinforcement provided by the coaching staff to the defensive unit. The 14 Crimson Tide defenders named POTW were: Christian Barmore, DJ Dale, Phidarian Mathis, Byron Young, Chris Allen, Will Anderson, Dylan Moses, Christian Harris, DeMarcco Hellams, Josh Jobe,  Malachi Moore, Patrick Surtain II, Daniel Wright and Brian Branch.

Other Alabama football POTW were (on offense) Evan Neal and DeVonta Smith and (special teams) Will Reichard and Jase McClellan.

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With the 14 defensive players named, a couple were not included, Jordan Battle and Justin Eboigbe. Also, D.J. Dale was included despite seeing little action against MSU.