Alabama defensive performance keeps Vanderbilt’s anchors weighed down


CW / Lexi Hall

Alabama linebackers Will Anderson Jr. (31) and Chris Braswell (41) celebrate after a play in the Crimson Tide’s 55-3 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores on Sept. 24 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Martha Glen Sease, Contributing Writer

Alabama’s defense had a statement game in the team’s 55-3 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  

No. 2 Alabama now moves to a 4-0 record, 1-0 in conference play.  

Alabama’s defense allowed the Commodores only 129 yards throughout the four quarters. The Crimson Tide totaled 56 tackles — eight of which resulted in 40 yards lost for Vanderbilt.  

Alabama’s front seven was dominant as SEC play began in Tuscaloosa. Vanderbilt was only able to convert one of 13 third downs, and the Commodores were unable to convert a single fourth down. In four games, the Crimson Tide defense has allowed opponents to convert just 11 of 59 third down attempts and two of five fourth down tries.  

Play in the trenches was going to be a determinant factor in the game all along. Alabama far and away won the battle on the defensive side of the ball, especially against Vanderbilt’s run game. Vanderbilt was only able to gain a net 14 yards off 26 rushing attempts.  

On the flip side, Vanderbilt’s defensive front allowed Alabama 228 rushing yards on only eight more rushing attempts. 

“I think the guys up front are doing a good job,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “I think this group plays really well together.” 

The front seven also recorded three quarterback hurries on top of forcing 33 yards lost via sacks. 

“Pete [Golding]’s done a good job designing a lot of things that have been helpful to our guys being able to get pressure up front,” Saban said.  

Linebacker Will Anderson Jr. continues to shine on the Crimson Tide defense. He leads Alabama in sacks, bringing his season total up to 4.5 as he recorded 2.5 sacks on the Commodores’ freshman quarterback AJ Swann.  

“Will [Anderson Jr.]’s a good player,” Saban said. “He makes a lot of plays. He makes sacks. He plays hard. He prepares well. He’s a great leader on the team. I’d talk about him for as long as you want to talk about him. He played that way last year. He plays that way this year. It’s important to him. He has passion for the game. He understands the game. He’s got power, he’s got speed, he’s got initial quickness.” 

Anderson alone was responsible for 33 negative yards for the Commodores – 16 sack yards and 17 yards in tackles for loss.  

“I always feel like it’s me versus me,” Anderson said. “That’s one of my biggest goals — to outdo what I did last year. To outperform what I did last year, and keep stacking days and having great preparation, and believing in myself.” 

Linebacker Chris Braswell recorded half a sack and one tackle for loss, coming out to negative nine yards for the Commodores. Defensive lineman DJ Dale also recorded a sack and a tackle for loss, totaling in negative 14 yards for the Commodores. Linebacker Henry To’o To’o led the defense with six total tackles, four of which were solo tackles and one tackle resulting in a Vanderbilt loss of four yards.  

In total, Alabama’s defense only allowed the Commodores nine first downs on the night. Vanderbilt only crossed the 50-yard line twice, with one of those instances ending in the only points Vanderbilt scored on the night. This also marked the first points Vanderbilt put up against Alabama since Sept. 8, 2007 – Saban’s first season with the Crimson Tide. 

Between the Crimson Tide’s high-flying offense and stellar defensive performances, the Crimson Tide has now outscored its opponents 193-29 this season.  

 Alabama will travel to face the Arkansas Razorbacks on Oct. 1 in Fayetteville at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]