By firstname.lastname@example.org (Terrin Waack)
The University of Alabama football team finally did it. Its defense came close already this season, but was unable to follow through with it until now.
Alabama completed its first shut out of the season, finishing off Kent State in Bryant-Denny Stadium, 48-0.
“Every game we go into, we want a shut out on defense, but it doesn’t happen if we don’t execute,” defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “[Saturday], we executed really well all-around the board – offense, defense, special teams – so we got the shut out that we wanted.”
The Crimson Tide came close in its season opener against Southern Cal, but the Trojans squeaked in a field goal to put itself on the scoreboard. The following week, Western Kentucky scored the first touchdown against Alabama of 2016. Ole Miss was a different Week 3 story and scored repeatedly – but still lost.
Saturday’s final score marked Alabama’s 17th shut out since coach Nick Saban took over in 2007.
“It was good to get a shut out,” Saban said. “I know that all the players were happy about that, but it’s one game. We need to play at a little more consistent standard.”
Alabama’s defense was solid, though. The Golden Flashes made it into the red zone once, but was unable to push through to score. They found success only one of their 13 third-down conversions.
Kent State was held to just 82 yards on the ground and 84 yards in the air over the course of 166 plays. On average, it picked up 3.6 yards per play.
“That’s a step forward,” linebacker Ryan Anderson said. “We can definitely build off this. We have some tough games coming up so we need to have that to show ourselves that we can do that.”
The Golden Flashes did have one big play, though. It was their opening drive.
Kent State running back Justin Rankin took off to the right and advanced his offense 47 yards down the field where Alabama defensive backs Eddie Jackson and Marlon Humphrey met him for a tackle.
“The first play on defense, we didn’t execute exactly right, and they made a big play,” Saban said. “But we got a stop.”
In fact, the Crimson Tide finished with 55 stops. Linebacker Reuben Foster led the way with seven total tackles.
Foster also helped sack Kent State quarterback Mylik Mitchell. There were back-to-back sacks during the second quarter. First, Anderson and Fitzpatrick clobbered up Mitchell. Then, Anderson and Foster quickly hit him again.
For the Kent State offense as a whole, it seemed Fitzpatrick specifically came out of nowhere. He just unexpectedly showed up in the backfield.
“The two sacks I had were really two calls we haven’t run all season,” Fitzpatrick said. “They usually don’t account for more on the rush because I’m usually covering outside. So every time we run it, we get a sack.”
Other Alabama defensive highlights included defensive backs Ronnie Harrison’s fumble recovery and Anthony Averett’s forced fumble.
But, just like Saban said: It was just one game. It felt good to complete the shut out, even with the second-string team in for a majority of the second half, but it’s back to work on Monday. Alabama hosts Kentucky next Saturday for its homecoming game.
“Keep playing,” Anderson said. “The score is 0-0.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports