Tag Archives: Alabama Crimson Tide

Mississippi State vs. Alabama, 11-10-18: In-game report

A pair of sophomores on different sides of the ball are leading the charge for the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.  Behind its star quarterback and dominant defensive line,  Alabama defeated Mississippi State, 24-0.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

13 Tua Tagovailoa (6’1, 218) Alabama QB-Sophomore  

While a bit undersized, Tua Tagovailoa has the traits of an NFL starting quarterback.  His excellent feet and natural throwing motion stood out once again on Saturday.  In the first quarter, the sophomore perfectly lofted a pass to junior tight end Irv Smith, Jr. (6’4, 240) at the one-yard line near the sideline between two defensive backs. The pass led to a one-yard rushing touchdown. The Hawaii native is also athletic enough to still be able to evade pressure even while dealing with a knee injury that requires him to wear a brace. When the pocket breaks down, Tagovailoa is able to sense it and tries to run.  This can be good and bad.  The positive is that once it led to a 10-yard first down pickup.   On the negative side, Tagovailoa was sacked four times partly because he refused to throw the ball away and sank in the pocket.  He has a lot of the tools to be successful at the next level but I will be interested to see how he improves when it comes to not taking unnecessary sacks. The sophomore quarterback completed 14-of-21 passes for 164 yards with one touchdown and one interception. 

92 Quinnen Williams (6’4, 289) Alabama DL-Sophomore 

Williams is one of the coveted defensive lineman in college football because he can play both the run and the pass. Against the pass, Williams was able to use a rip move and get up field to force a sack at the end of the first quarter.  Against the run, Williams plays with great leverage, which allows him to keep a low base and take on multiple interior linemen.  Williams (5 sacks on the season) is violent with his hands and should be able to contribute immediately in either a 4-3 front as a defensive tackle or 3-4 scheme in the NFL as a defensive end. 

Mississippi State blitz packages 

The Bulldogs mustered just 169 yards of total offense but on defense, they may have been on to something that could help other teams in their quest to dethrone Alabama.  Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s unit held Alabama to 305 total yards, which was 200 less than its season average.  They sacked Tagovailoa four times when Alabama had come into the game with just six sacks allowed.  Shoop did it with a variety of blitzes from a number of directions. Three different players accounted for the four sacks.  Sophomore linebacker Willie Gay, Jr. (6’2, 235) led the team with two sacks and also had an interception.  Gay, Jr. was used as a blitzer on multiple occasions prior to his interception, and he was able to fool Tagovailoa by dropping into coverage on the pick.  The numbers will show a blowout but the Bulldogs defense gave Alabama all they could handle. 

Alabama’s Miller making his mark

Alabama outside linebacker Christian Miller is blessed with NFL bloodlines.  His father, former NFL linebacker Corey Miller, enjoyed an eight-year NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants that included 72 starts, 14 sacks, seven interceptions and a host of tackles.

Miller hasn’t been able to get his career on the same upward trek up to this point, but he has shown flashes in the past.  Before going down to a biceps injury versus Florida State in 2017, he had already run through the Seminoles offensive tackles on a couple of occasions when defending the run out of a two-point stance.  Well- balanced at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, he has enough length to occasionally battle with offensive tackles on the edge (see picture vs. USC’s Chad Wheeler in 2016).  He possesses the necessary bulk to create separation while deciphering the action.

So how has he grown mentally over the last year?

First of all, he didn’t allow the biceps injury to end his 2017 campaign.  He rehabbed religiously to make a comeback in time for Alabama’s national championship run.  His arduous journey draws high marks if for nothing more than its pure tenacity.  Miller put it best when he described the passage prior to the team’s Sugar Bowl contest against Clemson in early January.

“I feel good. This is what we wanted,” Miller said. “This is the opportunity that we wanted. Obviously had a rough start to the season with getting injured in the first game. But I rehabbed and worked back, and now I’m back.” (https://www.seccountry.com/alabama/christian-miller-describes-grueling-rehab-shit-not-easy).

And he didn’t just come back, he contributed.  In the 2018 National Championship Game, he was seen lining up on the punt team at the left tackle spot.  In the same game, he used a right-handed post versus a tight end and just wouldn’t quit on a down that resulted in a quarterback sack after he re-mapped his course.

Coming into this season, the true test would be to see if his pass rush variety would improve coming off the edge.  Last week vs. Ole Miss in Oxford, he put together arguably his best career performance to date (5 tackles, 2.5 QB sacks, 2.5 TFLs).   His first quarterback sack came on a play from the left defensive end spot.  He took a shoulder away and then surfed around the corner to wheel the edge and get the quarterback on the ground. On this play, he displayed an increased skill running the loop.   He later ran over a running back (in a one-on-one blitz pick-up) with a speed-to-power rush that resulted in his second quarterback sack.

These types of plays create a baseline to judge Miller on for the rest of the season.  As a competent complementary pass rusher alongside Dylan Moses, Isaiah Buggs and Raekwon Davis, the former five-star recruit may give the Crimson Tide’s defense even more room to blossom.

2018 Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

Season outlook

Alabama is once again the favorite to win the National Championship, but they will have to adjust to new offensive and defensive coordinators in Nick Saban’s 12th season as head coach. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will have to choose between junior quarterback Jalen Hurts (6’2, 218) and sophomore signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa (6’1, 218).
Aside from posting a 26-2 career record as a two-year starter, QB Jalen Hurts (No.2 pictured) has thrown for 4,861 yards (61.9%), 40 TDs and 10 INTs. He has also rushed for 1,809 yards (5.4 YPC) and 21 TDs.
Both quarterbacks showed an ability to take care of the football in 2017.  Hurts threw just one interception in 254 passing attempts and Tagovailoa had only two in 77 passes.  The duo combined for 28 passing touchdowns.  No matter who lines up under center, look for Alabama to feature senior running back Damien Harris (5’11, 216).  Harris is as consistent as they come, posting  back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Defensively, the front seven is led by junior defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (6’7, 306) and linebacker Anfernee Jennings (6’3, 267, Jr.).  A position group to keep an eye on this season is the secondary.  The Crimson Tide lost four contributors from last season’s team and will have several new faces on the back end.   Few teams are better prepared for attrition, but it will have to introduce newcomers on defense and in the coaches’ rooms.

Troy’s player to watch

99 Raekwon Davis 6’7 315 DT-Junior
Alabama routinely wins in the trenches with players like Davis.  He  has a good combination of strength and athleticism for an interior lineman.  For his size, he also plays with good leverage and is adept at bending and twisting to get around interior offensive linemen. The junior defensive tackle is also a technician with his hands, which allows him to blow by slower guards. Last year, he finished with 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

Game of the season 

November 24th against Auburn
The Iron Bowl will once again feature the two favorites in the SEC West.  Auburn returns 13 starters from last season’s team, which beat Alabama 26-14 at home.   Head coach Gus Malzahn is 2-3 all- time against Alabama and will look to even the score versus its in-state rival.  Expect a closely-contested game in Tuscaloosa.

DraftNasty’s Prospect Watch:

73 Jonah Williams 6’5 301 LT-Junior

Williams (No. 73 pictured) has started 29 games at both tackle spots in his first two seasons on campus.

There aren’t many true juniors with the starting experience of Williams.  In just two seasons on campus, he’s already earned 29 career starts.  By the conclusion of his junior year, he may very well have over 40 starts.  His mobility is evident when asked to reach defensive tackles or scoop block versus linebackers.  There have been instances where he’s been beaten over the top with outside club moves in pass protection.   If the ‘Tide opens up its offense in 2018, Williams may get an opportunity to show off an increased skill-set in pass protection.

Prediction: 12-0

As always, games against LSU and Auburn can be tricky for the Crimson Tide to navigate, but DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson is predicting an undefeated regular season for Alabama.  The Crimson Tide play Louisville, Citadel and Arkansas State in the non- conference portion of their schedule and won’t have to play Florida or Georgia until a potential match-up in the SEC Championship.

2018 CFP National Championship preview: Georgia vs Alabama, 1-08-18

This year’s championship game in Atlanta will feature two SEC teams and  two coaches who are familiar with one another.

Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) will face off against his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs (13-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) on Monday night.

Both teams are led by stingy defenses.  Each unit ranks top five scoring defense.

Worth noting, Saban is 11-0 against former assistants.

Players to watch

Georgia

3 Roquan Smith LB- Junior

Smith, at 6’1 225 lbs., is a little smaller than a typical first round linebacker but he has typical high-round talent. Smith finished the College Football Playoff semifinal versus Oklahoma with 11 total tackles. For the season,  Smith has 124 tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Smith already has an SEC Championship game MVP under his belt,  and the Bulldogs will need a similar effort to handle the Crimson Tide.

1 Sony Michel RB- Senior

Michel is a threat to take it to the house  any time he touches the ball. In the semifinal against the Sooners, Michel scored the game-winning touchdown and finished with 181 yards and three touchdowns. This year, he is averaging eight yards a carry.

Alabama

94 Da’Ron Payne DT- Junior

Payne is poised to join the likes of Marcell Dareus and Jonathan Allen, former Crimson Tide defensive linemen who have become premier run stuffers at the next level. Payne, at 6’2, 308 lbs., is a space eater and does the dirty work in the trenches that allows the ‘Bama linebackers to roam free. He also intercepted a pass and caught a touchdown against Clemson in the College Football semifinal.

29 Minkah Fitzpatrick DB- Junior

Fitzpatrick patrols the back end for the Crimson Tide and his measurables (6’1, 203 lbs) could make him useful at the next level as a nickel corner and safety. Versatility is the name of the game for defensive backs in the NFL and Fitzpatrick possesses that ability. On the season, Fitzpatrick has eight pass deflections, one interception and one forced fumble.

Prediction: Georgia 13 Alabama 21

—Troy Jefferson, DN Staff Reports