Things to Like, and to Work on for Bama Defense

There was a lot to like from Joe Kines's perspective following Alabama's 48-17 victory over Utah State in the Tide's season opener Saturday night. Alabama held the Aggies to 61 rushing yards, but allowed 205 net passing yards.

A major positive was that the defense effectively shut down the run of an admittedly inferior Utah State squad with limited use of its top tackler from a year ago, linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Ryans sprained his ankle in Alabama's second fall scrimmage, giving junior Juke King the first start of his career. Ryans played a limited number of snaps in the game.

"We didn't want to feed him the whole hog tonight," Kines said. "He'd been out so we just tried to ease into it. He felt good about it. We're just glad he got to play and everything went well with him."

Said Ryans, "It felt good to get back out there. My ankle felt pretty good today. Hopefully I'll be able to practice all next week. I knew I would come in at some point in time but not as much."

Sophomore Juwan Garth and senior Cornelius Wortham earned starts alongside King at linebacker. Terrence Jones and Demarcus Waldrop also took snaps at linebacker during the game.

Another starting linebacker from 2003, Freddie Roach, did not start the Utah State game, but got into the action with a sack for a seven yard loss along with another quarterback hurry. Roach was also limited for much of fall practice with a knee injury.

"I got a little sore," Roach said. "I had to warm up a little bit, but for the most part I feel pretty good. We've got guys that can make plays all over the field. It was good to get one under us and we need to build on that."

Simeon Castille gave the media a chuckle when he gave an honest answer to a question about his performance being what he had dreamed of. Said Simeon, "I was hoping to get two picks this game, that was my goal. But I had the opportunity and I just didn't capitalize on it."

Simeon didn't feel much of a letdown by not hitting his extraordinarily high goal, however.

"It felt better (before the game) than I thought it ever would," he said. "I've been waiting for this for a long time, to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide and run out in front of 85-plus thousand fans.

"When I ran out I was on could nine. It felt great and I wanted to come out and play well, not only for me but for the team. I don't want the team to look at me – I don't want to be the weak link – I want to contribute to this team as much as I can."

The Castille's pulled off what seems to be first in Alabama football history, being the only brothers to score a touchdown in the same game. Tim Castille found the end zone, capping a seven play drive with a one yard run in the fourth quarter.

"I was more excited about Tim's (touchdown) than I was mine," Simeon Castille said, "but I'm glad that we were both able to score in the same game and get the season started off on the right foot."

Tide secondary coach Chris Ball saw more from Simeon that just the one play.

"That was a small part of what he did tonight," Ball said following the game. "He made some crucial tackles in some crucial situation and did a good job covering those guys when he needed to. I was really impressed with the way he played."

Overall, the Alabama secondary had some good and bad plays, recording two interceptions, but also giving up a Utah State score on man-to-man coverage.

"We made a few mistakes," Ball said. "Anthony (Madison) gave up the touchdown, it was a blitz with pure man coverage. We just didn't make a play. That happens sometimes when you blitz. At least we have something to work off now and we've got a game under our belts."

"Roman (Harper) played really well. He really ran the show and made the checks that we needed tonight."

One of the brightest spots of the night came in placekicking, an area of concern entering the game. Little heard of freshman Jamie Christensen handled all ten of the Tide's kickoffs. Christensen charted five touchbacks, and received a warm ovation from the Bama faithful after knocking his first wind- and adrenaline-aided kick out of the back of the end zone.

Even late in the game, though, after the wind and nerves had settled, Christensen kicked his eighth, ninth and tenth kickoffs of the night down to the two yard line. He had one errant kick that sailed out of bounds in the second quarter.

"It was great. It's what you always dream of," Christensen said of his kicking and the crowd's reaction. "It's what I've worked hard for. I've done it in practice a million times, but bringing over to the game, I'm glad I could do that. It's pretty much the same, I'm just glad I could do it in the game."


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