Defense left ‘disappointed’ after win over New Mexico State

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Defense left ‘disappointed’ after win over New Mexico State

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

It’s not often that a defense holds an offense to 10 points but is upset about its performance.

After a 62-10 drubbing of New Mexico State, Alabama’s defenders were not satisfied with their play, having allowed 262 total yards to the Aggies. 

“I think we got sloppy,” coach Nick Saban said. “We played a lot of  the twos and I was not pleased with the way they executed.” 

After Alabama started two true freshmen at the Mike and Will linebacker spots, Saban felt comfortable throwing another wrinkle at his team in preparation for a pass-first offense. Alabama put four safeties on the field at the same time while the team was in dime.  

Two of those safeties, Jordan Battle and Daniel Wright, got their first meaningful snaps of the season after playing with the second team last week.  

“We definitely practiced different personnels,” redshirt senior linebacker Anfernee Jennings said. “Whatever the offense is running we make adjustments off of that. Everybody knows what they are doing and how to do it and why it is important.”

Alabama lined up in nickel for the first play of the game but transitioned to its dime package as the Aggies looked to move the ball through the air. Shane Lee was the lone inside linebacker for most of the plays in dime during the first half with junior Xavier McKinney in the Money spot.

On the outside, the dime package stayed relatively the same as Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain II were in their spots. This left the other starting outside corner, Josh Jobe, on the sidelines for most of the game while New Mexico State’s offense was on the field.  

As the game wore on, changes along the defensive line and the secondary allowed the Aggies to pick up some momentum on offense. In the first half when the starters were in the game, New Mexico State was held to 64 yards. In the second half with the second string defense in the game, the Aggies gained 198 total yards and scored all 10 points during that time.  

Despite sharing the team lead in tackles with six, Raekwon Davis said the defense’s performance was “disappointing.”

“We just have to do better at tackling,” Davis said. “This game was our worst game in tackling. We have to be better at that.”

Davis, whose disdain for his team’s performance was apparent, continued to show his ability to get to the quarterback. His quickness off the line of scrimmage and his strength gave the New Mexico State offensive line issues as he recorded a tackle for loss and five assisted tackles.  

“[Davis] understands why he came back and what we want to do,” Jennings said. “He is doing a good job by leading and being in the front.”

Despite the disappointment in the defensive effort, a bright spot for Alabama was true freshman kicker Will Reichard

Reichard went 8-for-8 on extra point attempts and 2-for-2 on field goal attempts after missing two field goals last week against Duke.

The Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd gave a rousing ovation for the freshman as he drilled both field goals from more than 45 yards away, with ease. 

“I don’t want to bash any of the other kickers that we have, but it’s really good to know that we have someone we can really, really trust to put out there and we don’t gotta go four downs and we need the first down to get closer,” Tua Tagovailoa said. “Having the trust with Will being able to kick the ball and knowing how accurate he is, it helps us.”