In more than a few Alabama football fans, these numbers are burned into memory – 52, 207, and 5. The last two numbers were flashpoints causing the Crimson Tide to be ‘Rocky-topped’ last October in Knoxville.
The Tennessee Vols scored 52 points. That would have never happened had Jalin Hyatt not scored five touchdowns while racking up 207 receiving yards. Making it worse for Alabama football fans, Hyatt caught just six passes in the game.
Crimson Tide fans seeking an answer as to why, focused attention (and ire) on the Alabama Defensive Coordinator, Pete Golding, along with Tide defensive backs DeMarcco Hellams and Malachi Moore.
What a difference a season makes!
Alabama fans are enjoying defense again and recognize Malachi Moore as a key component in the Tide’s success. To be fair to Malachi, he was also tremendous as a freshman. Late in his freshman season, Moore was injured. Much of his next two seasons Moore struggled to return to top physical form. The difference was so obvious he almost looked like a different player. In the first five games of the 2023 season, a fully healthy Moore was outstanding, doing his individual job while providing leadership for the Tide secondary.
Early in game six, Moore was injured. Though he dressed and warmed up before the Arkansas game, he did not play. So far this week there has been no official word that Malachi will play against Tennessee. Nick Saban said on Wednesday that Malachi had a good chance to play.
The comment by Saban indicates Moore will start against Tennessee. At Star, Moore will be matched against this season’s most dangerous Tennessee receiver. Squirrel White is the Vols’ leading receiver with 29 receptions. White is usually in the slot and has been almost always targeted with quick short passes. He is small, but has outstanding speed and is elusive. White is loaded with explosive play ability.
Alabama Football and a healthy Malachi Moore boost
A 100% healthy Malachi Moore would get the White assignment. If Moore is somewhat short of 100%, he might move to safety and Terrion Arnold would get the task of matching up with White. The likely fifth DB in nickel would be Trey Amos taking Arnold’s outside corner spot.
Moore at Star has more than coverage value. Josh Huepel uses spread formations that give Tennessee running backs more space to work in. Moore is a sure tackler and having him at Star should aid the Tide’s defense in keeping Tennessee’s running backs in check.
Although he has dropped a couple of touchdown passes this season, Tennessee’s Ramel Keyton is also a threat. He caught five passes against the Tide last season. He has just 14 receptions this season, but his average yards per reception are on par with A&M’s Ainias Smith and LSU’s Malik Nabers.