The Auburn Tigers ran with too frequent success against a good Alabama Football defense. Despite getting dinged up during the Iron Bowl, Jarquez Hunter rushed for a 6.6-yard average. On Damari Alston’s 10 carries against the Crimson Tide, he averaged 8.5 yards.
Statistically, the Georgia rushing attack is better than Auburn’s, and unlike Auburn, the Bulldogs have an effective and sometimes explosive passing attack. Alabama football fans are concerned the Iron Bowl portends Georgia can take advantage of the Crimson Tide defense.
Is the concern from Alabama fans valid, or is it closer to being an overreaction to certain dynamics of the Iron Bowl that will not be replicated in Atlanta?
Alabama Football Rush Defense
In its eight SEC games, the Crimson Tide played against four of the SEC’s five most productive rushing attacks. Based on regular season stats of average rushing yards per carry, the five are LSU (6.3-yards), Tennessee (5.6-yards), Georgia (5.3-yards), Kentucky (5-yards) and Auburn (5-yards).
The SEC’s leading rusher is LSU’s Jayden Daniels. The future Heisman Award winner gashed the Crimson Tide for 163 yards on the ground. But Georgia’s Carson Beck is no Jayden Daniels.
The pertinent comparison for the Georgia game is how the Tide defense has handled the SEC’s best running backs. Jarquez Hunter and Damari Alston prospered in the Iron Bowl, but that is not the norm for the Tide this season.
Crimson Tide Defense vs. SEC Running Backs
- Against Tennessee, Alabama held the Vols’ top two running backs well below their season average. For the season, Jaylen Wright rushed for a 7.4-yard average. Alabama allowed him just a 2-yard average. Jabari Small’s 5-yard average for the season was 3-yards against the Crimson Tide.
- While Daniels was almost unstoppable, LSU’s main running back, Logan Diggs rushed for a 3-yard average against the Alabama football defense, compared to a season average of 5.5-yards.
- In the Kentucky game, Alabama held Ray Davis to a 2.2-yard average compared to his season average of 5.7-yards.
So what the heck went wrong in the Iron Bowl? With Auburn’s inept passing offense, Alabama’s very good defense should have been able to focus on shutting down Auburn’s rushing offense.
Instead, Auburn produced three 70-plus-yard drives that included explosive rushing plays. None of the Tide’s three inside linebackers were consistently effective run-stoppers. Deontae Lawson made five tackles but appeared to still be hampered by his previous injury. Trezmen Marshall made little impact on the game and Jihaad Campbell provided only three solo tackles.
Credit to Hugh Freeze for using hurry-up to often prevent the Tide defense from situational substitution. As a result, the Tide’s defensive front may have worn down, allowing a mediocre Auburn offensive line to get more push than expected.
Alabama’s defensive rotations will return to normal against Georgia. The stiffness of the Crimson Tide run defense should return as well.