Alabama defense has dominant performance vs MTSU

Alabama linebacker Kendrick Blackshire (40) in action against Middle Tennessee at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, Sep 2, 2023.

By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Juliet Brown

Kevin Steele’s defense was stout in his first game back as Alabama’s defensive coordinator.

The Crimson Tide defense looked more like the old school Alabama defense fans reminisce about. It held Middle Tennessee to 211 total yards in Saturday’s opener, looking like the old schools Alabama defense fans reminisce about. In comparison, the Crimson Tide opponents averaged 318 yards per game last season.

MTSU’s offense was held to just 13 first downs.

True freshman safety Caleb Downs had a team high eight tackles, while linebacker Deontae Lawson finished with seven stops, two TFLs, and a sack.

Throughout fall camp, Alabama players on defense talked about two points of emphasis: creating turnovers and limiting penalties. The Crimson Tide showed marked improvement in both in the season opener.

The defense forced four turnovers against Middle Tennessee which is one-third of it had all of last season (12 turnovers in 2022).

Safety Jaylen Key recorded his first interception in a Crimson-colored jersey. The graduate transfer from UAB picked off Blue Raiders quarterback Nicholas Vattiato early in the second quarter to set up a Crimson Tide touchdown drive.

Alabama forced three fumbles, recovering one of them. Linebacker Kendrick Blackshire stripped a MTSU ball carrier midway through the fourth quarter.

Alabama was one of the most penalized teams in all of college football, averaging almost eight flags per game in 2022. Against MTSU, Alabama was called for only three penalties, and two of the flags were accepted. Defensive tackle Jaheim Oatis was penalized for roughing the passer in the second quarter, and wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks was called for holding on a punt return.

Alabama’s defense will face a greater challenge in Week 2 when No. 11 Texas comes Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Longhorns put up  458 yards of offense in Saturday’s season opener against Rice. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and will air on ESPN.

Last season, Alabama a captured a narrow 20-19 win on the road against Texas.

Categories: Alabama, College Sports, Featured, Sports