Alabama's defense overcomes injuries to defeat LSUBy Cody Estremera | 11/05/2017 12:00am
Ronnie Harrison had a crucial interception in the first quarter against LSU.
Ever since playing Florida State, Alabama has been beat up, especially on defense. It lost linebackers Christian Miller and Terrell Hall for the season, while Rashaan Evans and Anfernee Jennings missed some games. The 24-10 win over LSU had the same kind of feel.
The injuries started on LSU’s first drive when Minkah Fitzpatrick went down. He went to the medical tent, but was back for the next drive. He went down again when LSU wide receiver Russell Gage tried to hurdle Fitzpatrick.
“Minkah wanted to play; he was begging me to play,” head coach Nick Saban said. “Finally, I said ‘look, you can play in dime’ because he plays money, which is really kind of a linebacker position… Guy is a great competitor, and he did a great job for us when he was in there.”
Fitzpatrick’s injury was a hamstring.
Saban also said that linebackers Mack Wilson and Shaun Dion Hamilton were both out for the season. Hamilton hurt his knee, while Wilson injured his foot.
“It’s very unfortunate, but we have to look to the next man up,” Jennings said. “Both of those guys are big members of this team.”
After a seven-yard sack of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, it seemed like LSU was gaining momentum, that was till its first offensive play. LSU quarterback Danny Etling threw a pass to the left side of the field, which was intercepted by Ronnie Harrison, his third of the year.
“I was on the running back, so I figured he was going to be on a short route, and I just broke on it,” Harrison said.
Shutting down the Tigers running game was a big key to Alabama’s game plan. LSU ran for 151 yards, which is the most Alabama has allowed this season, 54 of which came on Darrel Williams’ touchdown run.
“It [LSU’s running game] wasn’t tough at all,” Jennings said. “They do a lot of eye candy stuff, but at the end of the day, they still have to snap the ball and run.”
Alabama struggled on stopping the Tigers on third down in the first half. LSU converted 60 percent of its chances [6 of 10] in the first half. However, after half the defense came up strong, allowing just three third-down conversions.
“We created the third downs. But when you do that you have to get off the field on third down, so they don’t extend drives,” Saban said. “We did a better job of getting off the field on third downs in the second half, and I think that was huge in the outcome of the game.”
Alabama’s defensive pressure came up big in the second half. After only getting to Etling one time in the first half, the Crimson Tide exploded for five sacks, led by freshman Dylan Moses, who had 1.5.
“I think once you create passing situations, it’s a little easier to put pass rushers in the game,” Saban said. “A lot of the plays we tried to generate pressure, they spread it out on us… We have to do a better job.”
The six sacks are the most in one game for Alabama since it sacked Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen seven times last year.
Alabama goes on the road next week to take on Mississippi State.