Alabama Football: Defense answers the bell against Ole Miss

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Alabama Football
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Alabama Football Special Teams: A-

The Alabama special teams units had their share of errors, but their contribution to the win was overwhelmingly positive.

All-American kicker Will Reichard went 3-3 on field goal tries, and continues to keep Alabama in games when its offense can’t find the end zone. Reichard did commit two penalties when his kickoffs traveled out of bounds in the field of play. These were uncharacteristic mistakes by the veteran kicker, and he must avoid gifting opponents good field position.

James Burnip remained consistent, as his three punts went for an average of over 48 yards, with a long of 56.

Although he has yet to make an impact offensively this season, starting wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks blocked a punt for the second time in his career. Although the offense didn’t convert on this particular occasion, these are the type of game-changing special teams plays that Alabama used to thrive on.

Lastly, Bama’s kickoff coverage unit played its best game of the season, and also resembled a vintage Nick Saban team. On the only two kickoffs that the Rebels had an opportunity to return, they were blown up deep in their own territory.

First, running back Jam Miller leveled Ole Miss return man Ulysses Bentley IV at the 9-yard line on one of the biggest hits of the day. Unfortunately, a penalty was tacked on and Miller was ejected for targeting, but a clear message was sent by the kickoff unit.

Would the coverage unit be hesitant after the penalty and ejection? Not a chance. On the very next kickoff, reserve linebacker Justin Jefferson flew down the field and again lit up Bentley IV short of the 20-yard line, this time forcing a fumble that Ole Miss was fortunate to recover.

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If the kickoff unit plays like this every game, their energy will bleed over into the rest of the Alabama Football team. Big hits on special teams tend to send shockwaves through the stadium, and give Bama’s defense momentum before it even takes the field.