GAMEDAY: Touchdowns spark competition within Alabama defenseBy Elliott Propes | 10/06/2016 2:27am
CW / Sam MacDonald
A competition has brewed among the Crimson Tide defense. Alabama has scored a nation-leading five defensive touchdowns in its first five games. Now each player is dreaming of being the next one to cross the goal line.
"I think every defensive player probably visualizes about it probably day-in and day-out,” Lineman Dalvin Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson has not yet found the endzone, but two of his fellow defensive linemen have. Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne both scooped and scored fumbles against Ole Miss.
“I’m tired of hearing Da’Ron Payne. He scored a two-inch touchdown. He’s thinking that he ran 100 yards or something. One linebacker has got to get in the end zone,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said. “He thinks he’s some kind of world-class athlete when I’m sure that coach [Nick] Saban probably could have picked up the fumble and walked, took one step and scored a touchdown.”
So far no linebackers have scored a touchdown. Defensive backs Eddie Jackson, Marlon Humphrey and Ronnie Harrison have all scored. The defense has actually scored as many touchdowns as it has given up. The team's five defensive touchdowns lead the entire nation.
Linebacker Rashaan Evans is pretty tired of hearing Payne as well. Evans said Payne talks about it every day at practice. He said hopefully this week the linebackers will get one against Arkansas.
“I joke with Ryan [Anderson] like he can’t talk about me until he gets a touchdown, and he almost had one in the Kentucky game,” Payne said. “He’s just hating.”
Special teams is also scoring touchdowns. Xavian Marks and Jackson have each scored on a punt return. Jackson has three punt returns for 112 yards and is averaging 37.3 yards per return.
Jackson has a knack for scoring non-offensive touchdowns. Including his pick-six this year against Western Kentucky, Jackson has had three career interceptions for touchdowns. Jackson has nine career interceptions and has a return average of 33.7 yards.
The senior thinks he could add to the offensive scoring category, too. He played wide receiver in high school and caught 12 touchdown passes during his senior year. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley said he thought Jackson could play receiver if he had to.
“That was my main position in high school. I played receiver and kick return, punt return and stuff like that,” Jackson said. “I wanted to at least give [receiver] a shot. But Coach Saban, he ain’t having it.”
With a plus-three margin, Arkansas is tied with Alabama for second in the SEC in terms of turnovers. A non-offensive touchdown could make the difference this Saturday, especially since the game was decided by one point the last time Alabama was in Fayetteville.
The linebackers just hope they are involved this time.