The Numbers Reveal How Dominant the Alabama Defense Has Been
The Alabama defense has been dominant through the first month of the season, surrendering 19 points or less in each of their four games (7.25 per game). A unit that featured nine players that earned Preseason All-SEC selections has lived up to the hype.
Led by the reigning Nagurski Award winner, Will Anderson, the Alabama defense is filled with talent and depth. Players that with either freshman or sophomores when the Crimson Tide won its last national championship in 2020 are now upperclassman and know what it takes to reach college football’s mountain top.
They have limited opponents to a nation-leading 3.33 yards per play and rank second in total defense, allowing just yards 201.2 yards per game. Alabama also ranks third in the country in opposing yards per rush at 1.84.
Although it has been against less than stellar programs, this group is playing with a confidence and swagger that reflect the previous defenses under Nick Saban.
Justin Eboigbe and Jaheim Oatis have proven to be impactful players on the defensive line. The trio of Henry To’oto’o, Jaylen Moody and Deontae Lawson at middle linebacker have been excellent for this defense.
The secondary struggled mightily at times in 2021, but so far this season the defense is the only FBS team who has yet to allow a passing touchdown. In addition to Anderson, defensive coordinator Pete Golding has implemented a package that also features Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell to get after the quarterback. Trying to block one of those guys is a challenge in itself but having all three on the field at the same time can be a nightmare for offenses. A great way to help any secondary is by having a dominant pass rush.
Redshirt freshman Terrion Arnold was a standout during fall camp and has started three of the four games at cornerback. He continues to progress each week with the more game reps he receives. Arnold is a natural in coverage, he looks comfortable and is never out of position. Sophomore Kool-Aid McKinstry returned to the starting lineup after starting six games as a true freshman. Sky is the limit for the former five-star recruits in the 2021 recruiting class.
It remains to be seen how the cornerback position plays out the rest of the season with Eli Ricks and Khyree Jackson earning playing time as well, but one thing is certain, there is a ton of talent at that position on Alabama’s roster.
Seniors Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams continue to occupy the safety position for the Crimson Tide. Hellams ranks second on the team in tackles and continues to show great improvement in coverage, as he did at the end of the 2021 season.
Alabama faces a tough test on Saturday, Oct. 2 when they travel to Fayetteville to take on No. 20 Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT and will air on CBS.