Just a week after Tim Smith and Tim Keenan III had some of their best performances in an Alabama Football uniform, two more defensive linemen stepped up in Starkville.
Justin Eboigbe (six tackles, half sack, one hurry) and Jah-Marien Latham (two tackles, half sack, one pass breakup, two hurries) had breakout games and were disruptive all night. Latham, a redshirt junior, capitalized on his increase in snaps with the most productive game of his career.
The linebackers continue to be a strength of the Alabama defense, even without All-American candidate Deontae Lawson in the middle. Jihaad Campbell filled in admirably with 14 tackles, a half sack, and an interception. Trezmen Marshall was his running mate on the inside, and might have played even better. Marshall spent a lot of time in the Mississippi State backfield, recording nine tackles, two tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.
Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell entered week five as the best pass-rushing duo in the SEC from a statistical standpoint. While they weren’t overly dominant as pass rushers in Starkville, both made huge plays in the game.
Braswell jumped a screen pass for his first career interception (courtesy of a Jah-Marien Latham hurry and deflection), and then shook off a Bulldog receiver to return the pick 28 yards for a touchdown. Turner notched a late sack of Will Rogers as State attempted to convert a fourth down, ultimately generating another turnover and giving the ball back to the Bama offense.
Alabama Football just might possess the best secondary in the SEC. True freshman safety Caleb Downs led the way with a career-high 13 tackles and his first interception, continuing his outstanding season. Jaylen Key quietly notched nine tackles at the other safety spot.
Star Malachi Moore (six tackles, 2.0 TFL) reinforced my belief that he is the best run support defensive back in all of college football. Terrion Arnold (who also doubles as a menace in run support) and Kool-Aid McKinstry continued to be a shutdown tandem at cornerback, while transfer addition Trey Amos got some valuable reps in the dime package.