Alabama Football: Defensive Report Card vs Texas A&M

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - OCTOBER 08: Dallas Turner #15 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after sacking Haynes King #13 of the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 08, 2022 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - OCTOBER 08: Dallas Turner #15 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after sacking Haynes King #13 of the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 08, 2022 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

For the second straight week, the defense for Alabama football played winning football despite being repeatedly asked to defend short fields. The unit took away the run, pressured the passer, and ultimately won the game in spite of the Tide’s shackled offense.

Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King took a beating from the Alabama defense, but was able to regularly extend plays with his legs and made some clutch throws.

Alabama is no stranger to subpar quarterbacks rising to the occasion in an effort to upset the Tide. More specifically, hobbled backup quarterbacks have given the Tide some headaches in recent years.

Haynes King joined the ranks of Zach Calzada, TJ Finley, and Hudson Card as average quarterbacks who have beaten or nearly beaten Alabama in the past two seasons.

As they did against Texas earlier this season, the Alabama defense made enough plays to win in the end.

Alabama Football Defensive Line: A

Alabama has been one of the best run defenses in the country all year, and continued that trend against A&M. Running back Devon Achane finished with 62 yards (3.9 YPC), and was never able to break into the open field and use his elite speed. As a team, the Aggies totaled 70 yards on 25 attempts (2.8 YPC).

On the defensive line, senior Byron Young tallied six tackles and a pass breakup. Freshman Jaheim Oatis notched two tackles, a pass breakup, and a quarterback hurry. With senior Justin Eboigbe still out, class of 2020 products Tim Smith, Jamil Burroughs, and Jah-Marien Latham saw significant playing time and were effective as well.

This Alabama defensive line does not always produce a lot of statistics, but it is excellent at controlling the line of scrimmage, stuffing the run, and pushing the pocket. Perhaps most importantly, it keeps the Alabama linebackers relatively clean and allows them to be one of the most disruptive units in the country.

Alabama Football Linebackers: A

Week six marked another big game for the Alabama linebacker corps. Henry To’o To’o finished with six tackles and a quarterback hurry, while Deontae Lawson made five stops. Lawson started in place of Jaylen Moody, who missed the game with an injury.

The Tide’s vaunted edge rushers could collectively make an argument for the game’s MVP. Will Anderson Jr. recorded just two tackles and no sacks, but was virtually unblockable all night. Anderson Jr. was constantly in Haynes King’s face, notching eight quarterback hurries by himself and generally wreaking havoc in the Aggie backfield.

Sophomore Dallas Turner finally got his first sack of the season, and then got a second one for good measure. He also tallied two hurries. Junior Chris Braswell recorded a sack and two hurries in his own right.

Alabama employed its Dime Rabbits package frequently in this game. This formation puts Anderson Jr., Turner, and Braswell all on the field together on obvious passing downs, and it gave the A&M offensive line fits.

Alabama Football Secondary: B-

Despite some mishaps, the secondary played pretty well overall. It helped limit Haynes King to just 5.5 yards per attempt while completing only 54 percent of his passes.

Still, the Alabama defensive backs allowed some open receivers and committed a couple of bad penalties. Aggie receivers Evan Stewart and Moose Muhammad III made some incredible catches to bail out King, and out-competed Tide defensive backs for the ball at times.

Brian Branch led Alabama with nine tackles, two tackles for loss, and two pass breakups. DeMarcco Hellams had seven tackles from his free safety spot. Terrion Arnold totaled eight tackles, a pass breakup, and his first career interception.

Arnold had some struggles for the first time this season, as he had his hands full with Evan Stewart. Still, he combines with Kool-Aid McKinstry to give Alabama a stingy cornerback tandem.

This secondary clearly showed a couple of holes that need to be patched up. These vulnerabilities must be corrected soon, as the Alabama secondary will likely be tested more than any position group on the team next week at Tennessee.

Alabama Football Special Teams: D

The Alabama special teams, which has been a strength for most of the season, faltered in the second half for the second consecutive game.

Kool-Aid McKinstry has been an electric punt returner all season, but finished the game with negative return yardage. McKinstry has been so effective to this point that he is still the nation’s leader in punt return yardage after such a performance.

Kicker Will Reichard may be the most reliable kicker in Alabama history. He very nearly cost the Crimson Tide this game, missing two late kicks and giving A&M an opportunity to win.

After hitting a 50-yarder to end the first half, Reichard missed a 47-yarder late in the third quarter and a 35-yarder in the fourth. Given his career success and consistency, it’s safe to assume this was a one-off performance from Will Reichard.

Next. Offensive report card vs Texas A&M. dark

He gets a mulligan this time, but only because the Tide pulled off the win in the end.