Special teams shine in Alabama’s 63-7 win against UL Monroe

 

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Hunter De Siver

Football is often considered a game of offense and defense, but people rarely put special teams in the conversation. Although the unit is only out on the field a few times per game, it is an important aspect of winning.

Returning punts or kicks is what starts every drive. The longer the return, the better the chances of scoring.

Alabama’s defense was lights out in a dominant 63-7 win against UL Monroe on Saturday, meaning the Warhawks punter was busy.

Cornerback and special teamer Kool-Aid McKinstry returned five punts for 136 yards, with his longest being 44 yards. McKinstry’s efforts are a major reason why the Tide scored six offensive touchdowns.

The Tide’s third touchdown before the midway point of the first quarter was perhaps the rarest. Wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks broke through UL Monroe’s punt coverage and blocked a punt. Defensive back Malachi Moore scooped it up inside the 5-yard line and scored.

Defensive back Brian Branch’s 68-yard punt return touchdown was Alabama’s 56th point of the day; yet another big play/touchdown by the special teams unit.

The Tide had their first takeaway of the season as future top 5-10 NFL Draft pick, linebacker Will Anderson Jr., intercepted a batted-up pass and scored from 25 yards out. Anderson finished with a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss as well.

Defensive back DeMarcco Hellams led both teams in tackles with nine. With all the touchdowns in all three aspects of the game (offense, defense and special teams), linebacker Henry To’oTo’o may have had the most underrated performance on Saturday: eight tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss.

Reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young had a subpar day… for at least his standards: 13 completions for 236 yards and three touchdowns, but two interceptions. 

The run game was the Tide’s main offense on Saturday as eight different players took turns carrying the ball. Young and running backs Roydell Williams and Trey Sanders each ran in for six.

Running back Jahmyr Gibbs once again had the most all-purpose yards (101), including 65 receiving yards and a touchdown. Wide receivers Traeshon Holden and Amari Niblack found the endzone as well.

After a highly nerve-racking 20-19 win against Texas last Saturday, one can assume that Alabama got their groove back against UL Monroe.

The Crimson Tide faces Vanderbilt in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network.

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