January 2, 2018
Defense Wins Sugar Bowls
The Alabama Crimson Tide is back. They’re the best they have been all season, and the scary part is, they aren’t even fully healthy. Missing linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton, the signal caller of the defense, and Dylan Moses.
With Alabama running through Clemson in the Allstate Sugar Bowl by 18, the defense, led by Minkah Fitzpatrick, showed up for the first time in a while – and it was a loud comeback. The Crimson Tide held Clemson to 6 points on just 188 total yards (124 passing/64 rushing).
How’d they do it? Bama’s defense showed up big time.
The Defensive Dagger
Alabama is always known for having monsters up front on the d-line, and even though the d-line hasn’t shown up as much this season as in years past, it’s still elite. All night they were dominating the line of scrimmage. Raekwon Davis’s led the d-line with an amazing game that included multiple tackles for loss, a sack and being flat-out disruptive. The Tide also had another big man enjoy the game of a lifetime: Da’Ron Payne. He’s only the third FBS player to have an interception and a receiving touchdown in the same game in 10 years.
The linebackers, being withered away by injuries all season stepped up on the biggest stage all year. Mack Wilson missed several games this season due to injuries, played a big role in this win. “Maserati Mack,” as he calls himself, had one of his best games of the season. With four solo tackles and a pass deflection, he also added a pick six, which was the dagger in Clemson’s side. It seemed to drain them of all of their hope, pride, and energy.
Anfernee Jennings came up big tallying three tackles for loss and even a sack. With Rashaan Evans leading the team in tackles (9), he also added a pass deflection, sack and tackle for loss.
The defensive backs came to New Orleans to play well, and they held Clemson to just 124 passing yards on a 48.6% completion percentage (18/37). The fifth-year walk-on senior, Levi Wallace, had two pass deflections, one of which led to the Mack Wilson pick six.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, the leader and the most decorated defensive back in college football this year, had a great game as well. Racking up three solo tackles, a pass deflection and tackle for loss. He would line up on the go-to receiver to beat Alabama in years past, Hunter Renfrow, on third downs and shut him down, he proved why he is the number one corner on the highly touted\ Mel Kiper’s Draft Big Board.
Clemson seemingly gave up, in the fourth quarter and Alabama kept pounding.
It was a definition of kicking a man while he is down.
Must-Have for Championship
If Alabama has a shot to beat Georgia and add another national title to their collection they will need all of these players, including others, to step up and stop the dominant run game by Georgia led by Sony Michel and Nick Chubb in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on the 8th of January.