HaHa Happy To Be Back In Uniform
After serving his two-game suspension, HaHa Clinton-Dix was told by Alabama Coach Nick Saban that Clinton-Dix wouldn't go back to his first team job. Landon Collins had taken over the weak safety position in Clinton-Dix's absence. But, Saban said, Clinton-Dix would be the first back-up both for Collins and for strong safety Vinnie Sunseri.
As it turned out, Sunseri suffered an apparent knee injury on Alabama's first kickoff and Clinton-Dix was thrust into service. He performed well with six tackles and an interception.
Clinton-Dix said, "It felt good to be back in there. I had been working hard to get better."
He said being on the scout team and going against the likes of "A.J. McCarron and Amari Cooper can't help but make you better. I tried to stay in shape."
He said during his suspension he was supported by his teammates.
As for his interception, which came off the hands of C.J. Mosley, Clinton-Dix said, "I was just in the right place at the right time."
Senior linebacker C.J. Mosley led all Tide tacklers with a game-high 10 stops. He said the shutout was great, but the Bama defense is still a work in progress. "We've got to make sure we keep building up and keep moving forward," he said. "We don't go after numbers. It's all about how we live up to the standards we have for ourselves.
"I trust all the guys, starters and backups. We all trust each other, and we hold each other accountable."
Junior safety Jarrick Williams elaborated a bit more. "Sure, we take big pride in not letting them score, but it's not all about you. It's about the team," he said after finishing with six tackles, good for second behind Mosley on the Tide chart. Williams went on to say that he and his teammates hope and pray that junior safety Vinnie Sunseri's knee injury is not as serious as it looks. "I hope it's not that bad. We're praying for him. To lose a big-time playmaker like that is something we'll have to fight through, if it happens. He gives us team spirit, and he's a motivator on and off the field."
Kenyan Drake had a second straight game in triple digits in the rushing yards category. The Atlanta sophomore drew praise from Saban after finishing with 104 yards on eight carries and two scores, including an electric 46-yarder where he bounced off a teammate, got to the corner, and was gone.
"One of my biggest assets is my speed," Drake said, stating the obvious, but then he elaborated. "It helps to be able to stop and go, but (my success) is a testament to my offensive line. We just go out there and execute to the best of our ability, and the coaches gave us a great game plan."
Drake said he and starter T.J. Yeldon (12 carries, 88 yards, and one touchdown) "push each other a lot. We're both very competitive. Coach (Saban) sees us as two people who can come in at any time. We're just happy for each other."
Another guy Drake is happy for? True freshman Derrick Henry, who actually led all rushers with 111 yards on six carries on the strength of a late 80-yard touchdown sprint.
"I'm one of Derrick Henry's biggest fans," Drake said. "I know his favorite play is the sweep and trying to get that corner. I told him when he did, he'd better make sure nobody catches him from behind, and they sure didn't."
Like his fellow captain Mosley, senior quarterback AJ McCarron sees his side of the ball getting better every week, particularly after rolling up 532 net yards. "We're starting to come together," McCarron said. "The young guys are starting to buy into ‘The Process.'
"We don't pay attention to who we're playing. It's based on us, and how we perform. I just try to go out and do my job to the best of my ability."
When McCarron was pulled 40 minutes into the contest, he had 180 yards passing and connected on 15-of-21 for 3 touchdowns. Yeldon was his leading receiver with four catches for 45 yards, but sophomore Amari Cooper had a second straight productive week with 65 yards on three catches. "It's great to have (Cooper) back," McCarron said.
"He seems to be doing good (injury wise) and playing good. He helps us."
When told Alabama now had nine different men with a touchdown catch, McCarron noted, "It's good, because defenses can't really key on one guy."
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