Alabama Football: Defensive Report Card vs Ole Miss

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football survived Oxford, Mississippi and the Ole Miss Rebels, prevailing by a score of 30-24. The Crimson Tide defense had a rough first half, allowing 241 yards of offense and falling behind by as many as 10 points.

Ole Miss’ first six possessions resulted in four scoring drives, four drives of 50-plus yards, and 24 points. Alabama then tightened up, and Lane Kiffin’s squad did not score again after its first drive of the second half. Bama closed the game with four straight stops, including two three-and-outs and two fourth down stops.

After recovering from its slow start, the Alabama defense avoided a late meltdown. It allowed Ole Miss to drive all the way into the red zone with a chance to win the game before turning the Rebels away with less than a minute on the clock to secure the victory.

Alabama Football Defensive Line: B

The Alabama front seven stepped up when it needed to against the best Power Five running game in the nation. On the surface, allowing 191 rushing yards doesn’t sound like a great day defensively. Still, Alabama held Ole Miss to 3.9 yards per carry, and well below its season average of 267 rushing yards per game. Freshman running back Quinshon Judkins had a productive day against the Tide with 135 yards and two touchdowns, but the rest of the Rebels ran 24 times for just 56 yards (2.3 YPC).

Senior defensive lineman Byron Young had the game of his life. Young was all over the field, notching 11 tackles, two sacks, two quarterback hurries, and a pass breakup. He has been the most productive member of the Alabama defensive line all year, recording 45 tackles and four sacks.

Tim Smith had four tackles, DJ Dale had three tackles and a PBU, and Jamil Burroughs tallied a tackle for loss in the game.

Alabama Football Linebackers: B-

The Alabama linebackers were effective as pass rushers, but continue to be inconsistent tacklers. They had trouble at times getting Judkins on the ground.

Henry To’o To’o finished with seven tackles, and Jaylen Moody had four stops and a TFL.

The Alabama defense benefitted from the return of redshirt freshman Deontae Lawson. Lawson is the most athletic of the inside linebackers, and made an impact on this game with six tackles and two PBUs. All-American Will Anderson Jr. recorded four tackles and a sack.

Alabama Football Defensive Backs: B-

The Alabama secondary had a decent outing, but conceded more plays than it should’ve to a quarterback like Jaxson Dart. Starting cornerback Eli Ricks went out with an injury early in the game, and Dart exploited replacement Terrion Arnold all afternoon. Dart found Malik Heath six times for 123 yards, mostly against Arnold. This matchup accounted for over half of Ole Miss’ 212 passing yards.

Terrion Arnold did make some plays, however. The redshirt freshman tallied 10 tackles, two pass breakups, and a fumble recovery. If not for a poorly-timed whistle, his fumble recovery would’ve gone for a walk-in defensive touchdown.

Safety DeMarcco Hellams had 11 tackles and made some huge hits in the game. Brian Branch made eight tackles and two tackles for loss. He also made the game-sealing fourth down deflection on Ole Miss’ last offensive play. Jordan Battle had eight tackles and a PBU for the Tide.

Alabama Football Special Teams: A

Senior kicker Will Reichard hit all three of his field goal attempts, making him 10-10 in the last three games. Reichard’s kicks turned out to be significant, as Alabama won by just six points.

Punter James Burnip averaged 44.0 yards on his four punts. Bama’s return men got limited opportunities, as they have throughout most of the SEC schedule.

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Otherwise, the Alabama special teams units avoided errors and didn’t do anything to lose the game.