Alabama defense ready to make strides against Vanderbilt

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Joe Klingbeil

The Alabama defense was not very pleased with the outcome of last Saturday’s game against Colorado State. Yes, the Crimson Tide beat the Rams soundly 41-23 inside Bryant Denny Stadium, but 23 points was 23 points too many and 391 yards of offense was far too much for the Rams, according to the Alabama defense.  

But as the Crimson Tide prepares for Saturday’s much anticipated matchup against Vanderbilt, one thing is for certain: the Alabama defense will bring a new sense of urgency and energy into Vanderbilt Stadium. 

“We practiced really well yesterday,” safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “We all got the gist of what happened Saturday. I don’t think words are really going to do anything right now, but actions are going to do a whole more.”

The Alabama defense was expected to have a “Come-to-Jesus” players-only meeting this week to discuss Saturday’s effort, and rehash the defense’s mindset as the Crimson Tide embarks into SEC play. Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday that the meeting has yet to take place, but it does not mean the players have not taken the necessary steps to prevent a similar performance. 

“I tried to fly around and make all the calls and stuff like that,” said Fitzpatrick. “Shaun Dion [Hamilton] was doing the same thing, just leading by example, and pretty much everybody followed and did what they are supposed to do. Leading with actions, I feel like is more beneficial than talking to people.” 

Alabama held a 41-10 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but allowed two touchdown drives of over 75 yards late in the game and allowed a total of 22 first downs to a Rams offense that was coming off a game in which it mustered up only three points.

“We need to do a better job of communicating,” said cornerback Levin Wallace. “We came out strong, and we want to keep that up for all four quarters.”

Crimson Tide players called for a similar meeting back in 2015, after the team fell to Ole Miss 43-37 in mid-September. That players-only gathering assembled that camaraderie and focus that was needed for the season’s long haul, as the Crimson Tide rode the wave all the way to a national championship. This year’s team is hoping for the same type of welfare. 

“We understand that there is some stuff that we messed up,” said linebacker Keith Holcombe. “We’re going to sit down and make sure that everybody understands where we are. We are a team together, we gotta play together, and clean up and get ready for conference play.”