The Crimson White

Defense aims to return to Alabama standard

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CW/ Hannah Saad

CW/ Hannah Saad

CW/ Hannah Saad

James Ogletree, Staff Writer

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The 65 points Alabama scored against Arkansas on Saturday came as no surprise. The 31 points the Razorbacks hung on the Crimson Tide’s usually stifling defense, however, did.

Alabama gave up the most points since the College Football Playoff in January 2017 and the most yards (405) since last season’s Iron Bowl.

“Everybody knew we got to get our stuff together,” defensive lineman Quinnen Williams said. “Because when we get into the playoffs or if we make it to the playoffs or we play Mississippi State or LSU […] our offense might not come in that day, so defense wins championships. We came in for real and set a new standard.”

Multiple Alabama defenders expressed a desire to re-focus on attaining the team’s usual defensive prowess. That quest, however, was dealt another blow on Monday when coach Nick Saban said junior cornerback Trevon Diggs broke his foot against Arkansas.

AL.com reported on Wednesday that Diggs will undergo surgery and miss four to six months, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.

Diggs is the fifth Alabama defender and third defensive back to suffer an injury believed to be season-ending, along with Terrell Lewis, Christopher Allen, Jalyn Armour-Davis and Daniel Wright.

“It’s always sad when you have a guy like that go down,” safety Deionte Thompson said. “Trevon worked so hard this season to get where he’s at. He was playing good football. It sucks for him, but next man up. I’ll be praying for him, wishing him a speedy recovery, but next man up mentality.”

Junior transfer Saivion Smith, who lost his starting job to freshman Patrick Surtain II at Ole Miss on Sept. 15, has replaced Diggs in the first-team defense at practice this week.

With Smith and Surtain II manning the cornerback spots and junior Shyheim Carter at Star, the nickel defense appears to still be in good hands.

The dime defense, though, is more uncertain. Before his injury, Diggs had been sliding from cornerback to Star, Carter from Star to safety and sophomore Xavier McKinney up from safety to Money, the fourth cornerback in the formation.

Now it seems most likely that junior safety Jared Mayden will occupy the second safety spot next to Thompson with the rest of the dime defense lining up this way: Smith and Surtain II at corner, Carter at Star and McKinney at Money.

With all that shuffling, the communication in the secondary – which was already an issue in multiple games – won’t get any easier.

Alongside Missouri quarterback Drew Lock – who led the Football Bowl Subdivision with 44 passing touchdowns and set the SEC single-season passing yards record last season – coming to town on Saturday, there’s no time like the present to shore up a defense that has thus far been underwhelming.

As a safety with a wide view of the field, Thompson has taken the blame for previous instances of the secondary not being on the same page, but sophomore linebacker Dylan Moses said that’s every defender’s responsibility.

“It’s more of just getting our heads to the sideline and trying to get the call first so we can communicate it to everybody,” Moses said. “It’s not just one person, it’s everybody that has to communicate. Not just one person trying to get it to all 10 other people. I feel like that’s one thing we’re really going to have to work on this week, because we’re going against a really great quarterback and a really great passing game.”

 

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Defense aims to return to Alabama standard