Alabama Defense Had Good Day Vs. Gators

It was no surprise that Nick Perry did not start Saturday’s game against Florida. Perry, who had started the first three Alabama games at safety, had been charged with a targeting foul in the Tide’s previous game against Southern Miss, and with that charge came a half game suspension. It was a bit of a surprise that Perry didn’t enter the game in the second half.

Although the score was close at halftime and into the third quarter, it wasn’t because the Alabama defense wasn’t getting the job done against Florida. Time and again the Crimson Tide offense was the victim of turnovers, and the Bama defense was put into tough situations.

All-in-all, though, the defense has to get high marks, even without Perry and without Jarrick Williams, the normal Star (or nickel back) or cornerback Eddie Jackson. Williams and Jackson were held out as they recover from injuries, although both reportedly could have played if necessary. Geno Smith started in place of Perry, Maurice Smith in place of Williams, and true freshman Tony Brown in place of Jackson.

Late in the game, with no hope of catching the Tide as Alabama was en route to a 42-21 win over the Gators, Florida had a couple of conservative runs that put UF over the 100-yard mark, 107 yards on 27 rushes, to be exact.

The Gators also were held to 9-28 passing for 93 yards.

That means that the Bama defense held an SEC offense to 200 yards. (By comparison, theTide had 291 yards of total offense in the first quarter.)

Alabama gave up 21 points, but only 14 when the defense was on the field. The Gators had a 49-yard fumble return for a touchdown. And the two touchdowns that came with the Bama defense on the field followed Tide turnovers that gave Florida great field position. A fumble led to a 31-yard touchdown drive and an interception meant the Gators had to go only 16 yards for a TD.

Florida was successful on only two of 13 third down conversion opportunities.

On the 14 possessions by the Gators, the average “drive” was 4 plays for 14 yards.

In Tide Coach Nick Saban’s 98-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to under 300 yards of total offense 63 times, or 64.3 per cent. Bama has held three of four opponents below 300 yards in 2014 (Florida: 200 yards, Southern Miss: 263 yards, Florida Atlantic: 145 yards).

Alabama’s games have been played mostly against spread offense teams, an attack of quick passes that severely limits the opportunities for interceptions, or even breaking up passes. The Tide went into Saturday’s game with no interceptions in 2014.

That changed.

Alabama recorded its first interceptions of the season with junior defensive backs Jabriel Washington hauling in the first and Landon Collins the second.

Washington, playing the Money (or dime back) position got the first pick of the season for Bama late in the first quarter with the scored tied 14-14.

Collins got his interception early in the fourth quarter and returned it 12 yards to the Bama 40. From there the Alabama offense went on to a touchdown that finished the scoring. Collins also broke up two passes.

Reggie Ragland led Alabama with five primary tackles and three assists, while Trey DePriest was second with four primary stops and three assists and a tackle for loss. Those two are Bama’s inside linebackers, Ragland at weakside and DePriest at middle.

Lineman Jarran Reed (he lined up at both end and tackle) had a nice game with three primary stops and two assists, a tackle for a two-yard loss, and a broken up pass. Collins was also in on five tackles, two primary.

Alabama has posted a 57-21-3 (.722) on-the-field record in Southeastern Conference openers dating back to the league’s inception in 1933. The Crimson Tide has won 23 straight SEC openers, dating back to the 1992 season. The streak began with a 25-8 win over Vanderbilt on Sept. 5, 1992. The 23-game winning streak includes 12 wins over Vanderbilt (1992-2001, 2006-07), six wins against Arkansas (2002, 2008-12) and one win against Kentucky (2003), Ole Miss (2004), South Carolina (2005), Texas A&M (2013), and Florida (2014). The last time Alabama lost an SEC opener was Sept. 14, 1991, when Florida beat Alabama 35-0 in Gainesville. The 23-game winning streak in SEC openers is the longest streak in school history and the longest active streak in the SEC.

Alabama, 4-0 overall, has an open date this week. Bama returns to action Oct. 4 at Ole Miss. The Tide’s next home game is Oct. 18 against Texas A&M.


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