Alabama Football: Defensive report card vs Arkansas

Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /
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Alabama Football Linebackers: B+

The Alabama linebackers were effective once again, despite missing zone-read assignments at times. Henry To’o To’o led the team with 10 tackles. The senior inside linebacker committed a boneheaded personal foul that resulted in an Arkansas field goal, but the points proved to be insignificant. Fellow senior Jaylen Moody had eight tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack.

Sophomore edge rusher Dallas Turner had his best game of the season, finishing with eight tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. All-American Will Anderson Jr. notched seven tackles, a tackle for loss, and a half-sack.

The Alabama linebacker group continues to be one of the best position groups in the nation. The quartet is typically very stout against the run, while also accounting for the majority of the Alabama pass rush.

Alabama Football Secondary: A-

The Alabama secondary contributed to limiting KJ Jefferson to what was easily his worst outing of the season. Jefferson completed just 54 percent of his passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback Cade Fortin completed four of ten passes for 35 yards. As a team, Arkansas completed 50 percent of its passes and averaged just 5.6 yards per attempt. The Hogs’ supersized receiving corps was largely held in check, and big plays in the passing game were minimized.

Senior safety Jordan Battle led the secondary with eight tackles. His running mate, DeMarcco Hellams, had six tackles and single-handedly generated Arkansas’ only turnover. Hellams made a heads-up play, both forcing and recovering a Rashod Dubinion fumble.

Sophomore cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry had a good game as well with six tackles, a TFL, and two pass breakups. On the other side, freshman Terrion Arnold had six tackles and a PBU of his own.

The Alabama corners have already shown a lot of improvement this season. The position group began the year in flux, with several injuries and an undetermined rotation. The young duo of McKinstry and Arnold, both products of the class of 2021, seem to have secured the starting roles. They were attacked often by Jefferson and the physical receivers of Arkansas, but generally played the ball well. McKinstry and Arnold limited the production of big and talented targets such as Jadon Haselwood and Matt Landers, and were able to do so without committing a lot of penalties.

In the nickel, Brian Branch recorded three tackles before being injured. Branch is a key member of the Alabama defense, so hopefully his injury is not serious. In his absence, Malachi Moore had five tackles and a pass breakup.