Alabama defense rounding into national championship form ahead of LSU

Anfernee Jennings, Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

With Tua Tagovailoa out for the game, the Alabama Crimson Tide defense showed up in a huge way on Saturday, as the Tide humiliated the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Saturday night was a game that the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide was expected to win very easily against the Arkansas Razorbacks. That being said, this game offered a bit of intrigue for the simple reason that starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t healthy enough to play in it. The Alabama signal-caller was out with a high ankle spring and Mac Jones filled in for him marvelously.

While Jones showed enough on Saturday night that he can at least hang with the LSU Tigers in two weeks if he has to start another game in place of the injured Tagovailoa, this win for the Tide was all about the defense. That side of the ball clamped down on Chad Morris’ Arkansas offense from the start, setting the tone in that it is rounding itself into championship form.

Alabama forced four turnovers on the night against the horrendous Hogs. The Alabama defense picked off Arkansas starting quarterback Nick Starkel three times with Trevon Diggs, Anfernee Jennings and Patrick Surtain II all hauling in an interception on the night. Diggs’ pick was an 84-yard return the other way for six points. Christian Harris also had a fumble recovery on the night.

The Alabama defense neutralized the Arkansas passing game. Starkel was eventually benched for John Stephen Jones, the grandson of the biggest Arkansas football booster there is in Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones. Jones outplayed Starkel and even got the Hogs some points on the board in this lopsided SEC West blowout, but it was too late for any close to a respectable effort.

Starkel was 5-of-19 passing for 58 yards and three picks, averaging a terrible 3.1 yards per attempt. Jones’ numbers were going to be better anyway in extreme garbage time for the Hogs. But that shouldn’t take away from the fantastic job the Alabama secondary for head coach Nick Saban.

With the Tide going on bye in Week 10, they will have plenty of time to devise a gameplan to contain the passing attack of quarterback Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers. The archrival Auburn Tigers may not have won the Tiger Bowl in Baton Rouge on Saturday evening, but they did put together a solid enough blueprint for how to stop the LSU passing attack. Alabama must love that.

Sure, smoking Arkansas is something eight SEC teams do annually. It’s nothing to write home about, but this was certainly a get-right game for the Alabama secondary if there ever was one. The Crimson Tide defensive backfield can feel great about itself and confident enough to take on the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, regardless of if Tagovailoa suits up for Alabama in two weeks.

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