White defense handles Crimson offense in A-Day


By Joe Will Field

Cody Estremera, Sports Editor

The common phrase “defense wins championships” pertains to Alabama’s A-Day game, not because there was a championship on the line, but there was steak.

Alabama’s first team defense (the white team) controlled the first team offense (crimson team) in its 31-17 win.

It allowed 304 yards of offense, but 265 were the reigning player of the year in Tua Tagovailoa. Fifty-four of those yards came on one throw in the fourth quarter when the game was pretty much over.

The fourth quarter touchdown and a drive that started at the 30-yard line were the only times the Crimson team found the end zone.

“I thought we competed as a team,” safety Xavier McKinney said. “I thought we played fast, I thought we played physical. There’s still a lot of stuff to correct.”

The White defense reached Tagovailoa and freshman quarterback Paul Tyson five times and broke up six passes. Eyabi Anoma broke up a pair of passes, while recording one sack.

Jaylen Moody intercepted Tagovailoa and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.

White effectively stopped the Crimson running game, allowing just 13 yards on 22 carries. Najee Harris led the team with 23 yards and a touchdown.

It forced the first-team offense off the field in three or less plays six times.

The Crimson defense faired roughly about the same as the White’s. The White, led by Brain Robinson, finished with just 32 yards. Chadarius Townsend ran for 30 yards on just four carries.

“We didn’t have a full complement of offensive linemen, but we have to be able to run the football better than what we demonstrated in this game,” coach Nick Saban said.

The combination of Mac Jones and Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 364 yards, 271 of which belonged to Jones. Jones threw a pair of touchdowns, while Taulia Tagovailoa threw one. They each threw an interception.

Jones and Taulia Tagovailoa were under constant pressure from the Crimson front, as they were sacked seven times. Phidarian Mathis, Chris Allen and Antonio Alfano each recorded two sacks (to record a sack on a quarterback, the defensive play just needs to put a hand on the quarterback).

Early enrollee Shane Lee had a standout performance. He finished with a game-high eight tackles and intercepted Jones.

Both defenses combined for 15 tackles for loss, resulting in a loss of 71 yards.

Fifteen tackles for loss in a game is huge for a defense, especially one that lost as many pass rushers as the 2018 Alabama team lost. Quinnen Williams declared for the draft and is widely regarded as a top-1 pick in the NFL draft. Christian Miller and Isaiah Buggs both graduated. Buggs led the team in sacks last season, while Miller led the team in quarterback hurries.

“[The new players up front] are doing great,” outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings said. “DJ Dale, LaBryan Ray and [Mathis], all those guys are working and continue to improve.”