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Eddie Jackson and Jarrick Williams: Healing at the Right Time

Alabama was off this week, but Nick Saban and company still worked. The Crimson Tide practiced fundamentals all week as it prepares for Mississippi on Oct. 4, 2014.

Ole Miss, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn all have one thing in common, physical receivers. Alabama dominated Florida 42-21, but the Gators’ offense isn’t as potent as others the Tide will see down the stretch.

Alabama’s secondary has been an issue this season. Consistency has been a problem, outside of Landon Collins. Cyrus Jones, Bradley Sylve and Maurice Smith have potential, but all three players have struggled with attacking the football. Jones, Sylve and Smith are physical with receivers, but can’t seem to get their heads turned around when the ball is coming.

It was trial by fire for Eddie Jackson in 2013, but he proved to be a valuable piece in Alabama’s secondary. Jackson injured his knee in the spring. He rehabbed well and returned to the field ahead of schedule. Jackson has five tackles and a forced fumble this season, but a quad injury sidelined him against Florida.

Jarrick Williams got his first taste of action for Alabama as a freshman in 2011. Now a senior, Williams is one of the leaders in the secondary. A foot fracture against West Virginia has cost him playing time, but Williams does have three tackles this season.

Nick Perry is a fifth-year senior. A shoulder injury caused him to miss the 2013 season, but Perry has returned strong. He’s ninth on the team in tackles with eight. Perry has experience, but continues to struggle with tackling in space.

Jabriel Washington is the definition of bend, but don’t break. Washington hasn’t played much, despite his classification (senior). Opposing quarterbacks pick on him often, yet Washington tends to win more so than lose. Washington has four tackles, one interception and a pass breakup.

Tony Brown has been a pleasant surprise for Alabama. The freshman has been physical, yet instinctive. Brown has four tackles this season, including one on Jeff Driskel.

Marlon Humphrey and Laurence “Hootie” Jones haven’t seen the field much. Both guys are learning the system. Jones has appeared in two games and has one tackle to show for it.

It takes more than size and speed to be an effective defensive back. Alabama’s secondary must improve on tackling and attacking the ball.

Bo Wallace looks to exploit the Crimson Tide’s secondary at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium (Oxford, Miss) next Saturday. The lone way Alabama can prevent this is by putting what they’ve done in practice into action.

The Crimson Tide received some good news during its bye week. Defensive back Jarrick Williams and cornerback Eddie Jackson will suit up and play against Mississippi.

Both guys have healed and will enter Monday’s practice with a lot to prove. Williams looks to push Geno Smith and Nick Perry for a spot opposite Landon Collins. Jackson will battle Cyrus Jones for the No.1 corner position.

Alabama’s secondary has its work cut out for them, but the players can draw from their accomplishments against Florida. Jeff Driskel was intercepted twice and the Gators as a whole had 93 receiving yards.

With a healthy secondary, Alabama’s defense has a chance to be a force in the Southeastern Conference. Tony Brown is growing and Cyrus Jones is improving. Having Williams and Jackson back will ease pressure off Landon Collins.

Alabama’s Secondary 2014 stats
Name Stats
Landon Collins 32 tackles, interception, two pass breakups
Cyrus Jones 13 tackles, pass breakup, forced fumble
Geno Smith 11 tackles
Nick Perry 8 tackles
Eddie Jackson 5 tackles, forced fumble
Bradley Sylve 5 tackles
Jabriel Washington 4 tackles, interception, pass breakup
Maurice Smith 4 tackles, pass breakup
Tony Brown 4 tackles
Jarrick Williams 3 tackles

Depth is important. It’s good to see young guys step up, but it’s even better to have veteran players come up huge in critical games.

Tony Brown, Marlon Humphrey and others are studs in the making, but having Williams and Jackson in the lineup is huge for Alabama as it plans to negate big plays from opposing offense.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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