Alabama Football will not be thin in the secondary for the Longhorns. But another ‘less experienced’ Crimson Tide player may be called on against one of college football’s best wide receiver groups.
In writing about the Crimson Tide defensive backfield earlier this week, I stressed the Tide has no talent deficiency. But it does not have an abundance of players with big-game experience. When Alabama football uses some of its dime sets Saturday night, a couple of the Tide’s six defensive backs will have never been in such a pressure-cooker game against such a quality opponent.
The latest confirmed information from Tuscaloosa is that Malachi Moore and Jalen Key will be game-time decisions on Saturday night. Unverified chatter is Malachi Moore should be fine, after being engaged in practice sessions this week. The same chatter indicates Jalen Key is doubtful.
If Key misses the Texas game, Moore is expected to join Caleb Downs at safety. The most likely dime starter addition will be Kristian Story.
With Moore and Downs at safety, in nickel formations, the three cornerbacks will likely be Kool-Aid McKinstry, Terrion Arnold and Trey Amos. In dime, Moore would move to the Money position, with Story joining Downs at safety.
For Alabama fans who don’t recall, Story was a 4-Star in the 2020 class and rated the No. 8 Athlete. Story did not play in 2020. Since then he has appeared in 24 Alabama football games, with the large majority of that experience as a special teams player. Story is an exceptional athlete. As a high school quarterback, he set an Alabama record with 175 total scores. The plan from day one in Tuscaloosa was for Story to play defensive back. When Nick Saban has spoken about Story this season, he has talked about Story’s potential, progress, and a need for consistency.
If Story is Jalen Key’s replacement against Texas, Steve Sarkisian will attempt to seize an advantage. Sark has so much talent at receiver, Story can be vulnerable to missing an assignment and giving up a big play.
The best help Story can receive from his Alabama teammates would be consistent pressure on Quinn Ewers. Ewers is accurate on shorter passes and Longhorns Wire points out, against blitzes by Rice in week one, Ewers was “11-for-14 for 174 yards.” The biggest challenge for Story and the Tide’s other defensive backs might not be receptions, but yards after catches.
Assuming Malachi Moore will be near 100% and that no new defensive back injuries occur during the Texas game, the Alabama football secondary, including Kristian Story should be fine against the Longhorns.