Defensive starters nearly stops Louisiana-Lafayette offense

By+Hannah+Saad

By Hannah Saad

Cody Estremera , Sports Editor

For the first three quarters of its 56-14 win, Alabama’s defense smothered the Louisiana-Lafayette offense, holding it to just 102 yards of total offense.

The Ragin Cajuns finished with 288 yards of total offense, 200 of which came on the ground.

“I was a little disappointed that we didn’t play better with the second defense when they went in there for more than a quarter of the game,” coach Nick Saban said.  “Too many guys on that group have to learn how to compete. They have to learn how to prepare, and they have to figure out what it means to play major college football.”

Alabama’s first-team defense shut down every aspect of the Louisiana-Lafayette offense in the first half.

It limited quarterback Andre Nunez to just 25 passing yards on six completions. On the last play of the first half, Nunez launched a pass downfield to try and deny the first-half shutout, but cornerback Trevon Diggs pulled the ball down for his first career interception.

He was the only starter in the secondary without an interception.

“We finally got on him for that,” safety Xavier McKinney said. “We been on his head for a long time now since he didn’t have one. Now he’s part of the pick club, so I guess we like him now.”

McKinney brought in his second interception of the season on the first pass of the second half. He finished with three tackles and half a sack.

Of their 74 yards in the first half, the Ragin’ Cajuns had 49 on the ground. The biggest play in the entire first half came when running back Trey Ragas ran a draw 26 yards to the Alabama 49. Before that run, they had just 52 yards of total offense.

“As a matter of fact, we try and stay locked in more for an entire drive, but once we see they crossed the 50 [they say] ‘OK, now we have to lock in,’” linebacker Dylan Moses said. “That’s when we all try to crack down and try to sharpen up our techniques.”

The fourth quarter is where Alabama’s defense struggled the most. It allowed all 14 points and 125 yards.

“As a defensive unit, I don’t think it’s close (to having a perfect game),” McKinney said. “We’re working toward it. I think we’re getting better each, but I don’t think it was a perfect game or anywhere near a perfect game.”

Ninety-eight of the allowed 200 rushing yards came in the fourth quarter. Elijah Mitchell ran for 67 of his final 85 yards in the fourth quarter. Trey Ragas finished with a game-high 111 rushing yards.

“You’ve got to let them get out there and play,” Moses said. “Whenever they come to the sideline, you can give them tips and stuff, but you never want to be on them, because you’ll make them nervous. You want them to gain their confidence on their own.