Alabama’s defense slows Missouri passing game in win


By Hannah Saad

Cody Estremera, Sports Editor

Early in the second quarter, defensive end Isaiah Buggs stormed his way through the offensive line and got to Missouri quarterback Drew Lock for an 18-yard sack. As Lock went down, Buggs stripped him of the ball, which Anfernee Jennings recovered, setting up Alabama inside Missouri’s red zone.

The Crimson Tide scored on the first play, after taking over for one of its four touchdowns on the day, leading to a 39-10 win.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game,” coach Nick Saban said. “We have a lot of respect for Missouri and their team.”

Coming into the game, Lock averaged 297.4 yards a game. The Crimson Tide held him to just 142 yards, his lowest since Sept. 16, 2017.

The second half was where Alabama really shut the Tigers down. Missouri ran 28 plays in the second half, gaining just 52 yards.

“We didn’t give up many explosive plays,” Saban said. “We kept people cut off for the most part.”

Last week, the defense had its worst game since it lost to Clemson in the 2016 national championship game. It gave up a season high in points and yards against Arkansas, and it was not going to do that again.

It held Lock and the explosive Tiger offense to just 212 yards, 111 of which came in the first quarter.

“The only thing that was different was the leaders stepped up this week,” nose guard Quinnen Williams said. “We all stepped up. We really focused on becoming the Alabama defense we wanted to become. Our mindset changed.”

The biggest showing of the defense’s dominance was the third quarter. It held Missouri to negative one yard and forced the running game to finish with negative nine yards in the 15-minute period.

“We played a great game,” Christian Miller said. “We wanted to respond. The way we played last week wasn’t our best outing and we wanted to respond this week.”

It sacked Lock four times, doubling the amount Missouri had given up this season, and forced a safety and a fumble.

Since he was under pressure for most of the game, Lock made a couple of bad decisions that led to a pair of interceptions, both of which were snatched by Saivion Smith.

Smith, who had lost his job after the win over Ole Miss, stepped into Trevon Diggs’ role. Lock attacked him on his first pass of the day, but Smith came down with the ball after making an impressive back-shoulder catch.

He returned it 33 yards, setting up an Alabama field goal.

“Saivion really played well in the game,” Saban said. “I was pleased with the way he played.”

He also finished with four total tackles.

The Crimson Tide front, normally known for stopping the run, has struggled the last two weeks, allowing 372 yards. The front seven stepped up, allowing just 70 yards on 35 carries.

“We wanted to come in and be the more physical team, most dominating team up front,” Williams said.