Alabama's Defense Rebounds in Second Half Against Georgia
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After three-consecutive weeks of worrisome outings by the Alabama defense, the Crimson Tide proved on Saturday night in its 41-24 victory over Georgia that its defense will be just fine.
In No. 2 Alabama's matchup with the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs, things started off as many expected that they would: the Crimson Tide defense allowed the Bulldogs 269 yards and gave up 24 points in the first half.
Aside from an interception for Alabama on Georgia's first drive of the game, the Crimson Tide defense did not provide much of a problem for the Bulldogs' offense. Georgia's first three drives of the game resulted in giving back the ball to Alabama. However, its last four drives of the first half resulted in three touchdowns and a field goal.
"Still made some mistakes especially in the first half on defense," Alabama coach Nick Saban said after the game. "[We] settled down, played a little better in the second half so really, really proud of our guys all the way around."
Played a better second half they did, and the Crimson Tide held the Bulldogs to zero points and intercepted Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett twice in crucial situations.
"The turnovers in the second half were huge," Saban said. "I thought the defense played a little bit better in the second half. We got off the field on third down a little better."
Freshman defensive back Malachi Moore was responsible for the first Alabama interception of the second half, snatching the ball out of the air at Alabama's 2-yard line and returning it 40 yards.
The play was vital to energizing the Crimson Tide's defense and taking the momentum back into its favor.
"As far as Malachi's interception goes that was definitely a big momentum switch," senior linebacker Dylan Moses said. "I feel like it gave a lot of energy to both offense and defense. Like I said throughout the game we just wanted to continue to keep pressing on the pedal, not giving up and keep pushing."
The second interception of the second half came on the very first play of the fourth quarter, with redshirt-junior defensive back Daniel Wright picking off Stetson and once again turning the game over in favor of Alabama. In total, the Crimson Tide had 21 points off of turnovers, capitalizing each and every time it stole the ball away from the Bulldogs.
All-in-all, Saban seemed very pleased with his defense but acknowledged that there are still some errors that need to be fixed.
"We got turnovers, we got a couple [of] stops on third down which were critical," Saban said. "They moved the ball a little bit, missed a field goal which was huge so I think they just did a better job of executing. We have to be able to adapt to different things that we see in a game."
After the defensive nightmare that was last week's game against Ole Miss, Alabama's defense seems to be on the right track. In total, the Crimson Tide allowed 414 total yards of offense but gave the Bulldogs a difficult time converting the yards into points. Alabama still has some work to do in its secondary and linebackers, allowing Georgia to gain an average of 14.9 yards per completion.
Moses said after the game that he and his teammates knew what a problem that Georgia was going to be and that they had a lot of mistakes that they learned at Ole Miss that they needed to correct.
"We knew that they were a great team — that Georgia's a great team," Moses said. "They're the No. 3 team in the nation for a reason. Just as far as for us we just wanted to finish, play 60 minutes and do what we can."