Anderson, Metchie Lead By Example In Bounce-Back Win
The Alabama Crimson Tide needed a serious spark after the disappointing end to last week's game. A contest in Starkville, Miss. presented an opportunity to get back on track, and Will Anderson and John Metchie took it upon themselves to be the spark.
Neither had a shining performance against Texas A&M. Anderson failed to record a sack or generate much pressure on quarterback Zach Calzada. Metchie had four drops.
But that was last week.
This week, these two players stepped up in a big way for the Crimson Tide to get back on track.
Metchie was the number one option for Bryce Young. He caught seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown early in the game.
Metchie hasn't held as much of the limelight for the Crimson Tide as was expected coming into the season. Though he began the night as the team leader in receptions, he trailed Jameson Williams in yards and scores. Although he still trails in the statbook, on the field Saturday, quarterback Bryce Young found comfort in tossing his passes to No. 8, who caught all but one of his eight targets.
"Last year the big plays we made against them we threw the ball over their head - the big plays we made today we caught the ball and ran with it," head coach Nick Saban said after the game. "Because we took a couple shots early in the game, they really played soft."
Anderson was a dominant force throughout the night. He was credited with six tackles, four of which were sacks on Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers. His pressure led to a couple of intentional grounding calls against Rogers and caused the young passer to throw three interceptions to the Crimson Tide secondary.
Before the season, Anderson was handed many comparisons to legendary edge linebacker Derrick Thomas. Well, the last player to have four sacks in a game for the Tide? Derrick Thomas.
Anderson said after the game he was proud to be mentioned with Thomas but hasn't reached his goals yet.
"I think the fact that we rushed three guys a lot, and we rushed four guys a lot and didn't really rush five guys a whole lot, at all, shows that those guys did a really, really good job, especially in a four-man rush, of creating pressure, affecting the quarterback and that's the key to the game," Saban said.
"I thought Will did an outstanding job out there pressuring the quarterback," Saban added. "We had the quarterback a couple other times and he got away from us, but it affects him. And I think that was as big a part of the game as anything."
The performance of both players is truly commendable and deserves praise. But the numbers only help to quantify the impact both players had on the game.
The fact is, Alabama finally played a full game. After one of the most painful losses an Alabama team has suffered in about 10 years, the Crimson Tide played a full 60-minutes of football at the Bama Standard. Saban said as much.
But we know how the week started, with a frustrated Anderson standing at the press conference podium opting for silence and shaking his head after a question about speaking to his team.
Anderson doesn't want to have to repeat himself. So tonight, he demonstrated it by having his best statistical game in the Crimson and White. And players took hede and followed by also having standout performances.
Jordan Battle intercepted two passes, taking his first to the house. Josh Jobe picked another pass. Henry To'o To'o tallied 13 tackles, including a sack. Alabama's defense stymied one of college football's most productive offenses to 299 total yards and nine points.
Metchie's early touchdown opened up the Crimson Tide offense, allowing Young to throw four touchdowns to receivers who took short passes a long distance for points.
"I think humility is a great thing for all of us to have," Saban said. "I think sometimes when you have success, it's human nature to sometimes think you don't have to continue to do things the right way, create the right habits, you get sloppy. And then, the redemption, you know, is not good - which we learned last week.
These guys have a lot of pride. There's a lot of culture in the program here, that our fans, our former players, people in the organization, people at the university, expect us to compete at a certain standard - we call it the Bama Standard. I thought we did that."
Saturday night's performance was the kind Alabama fans had been looking for. They got it. And if guys like Anderson and Metchie continue to demonstrate impeccable leadership in their play and with their words throughout the coming weeks, they'll get a whole lot more of it.