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Rashaan Evans ‘getting healthier,’ was pivotal in Alabama’s win over Tennessee

Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans (#32) wraps up Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano for a sack in last week's game: Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.– When he was not on the field, Alabama’s defense was the equivalent of sheep without a shepherd or an army without its general. During his two-game absence, Jeremy Pruitt went from being aggressive to having teachable moments – causing a lack of a pass rush. 

Upon his return for the Crimson Tide’s conference opener against Vanderbilt, senior linebacker Rashaan Evans had everyone positioned in the right spots.

Regardless of not turning in strong individual numbers, his presence allowed others to wreak havoc on Vandy and Ole Miss. 

While the team has collected 18 sacks since his return, Evans looked more like his old self in back-to-back home games for Alabama versus Arkansas and Tennessee. He’s not back at 100 percent because of a groin injury, but the once five-star recruit was credited with 12 tackles – including 5.5 for loss (-30), three sacks (-27) and four quarterback hurries in both matchups. 

After dropping the Razorbacks’ 6-foot-7 oak tree (Cole Kelley) to the ground twice, the Auburn native constantly harassed Volunteers’ freshman Jarrett Guarantano. Along with earning a sack for a loss of seven yards, Evans would also level Guarantano to the turf before halftime. 

Behind his performance of six tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and two quarterback hurries, the Crimson Tide held Tennessee to seven first downs, 108 yards (64 rushing, 44 passing) and just one third down conversion on 12 tries.

Following its 45-7 victory, Alabama head coach Nick Saban addressed the media on how Evans continues to ‘get healthier all the time.’ 

“He played a good game today,” Saban said. “He did get a little shoulder stinger, but was able to come back from it and we were able to utilize him in different ways on third down and put him in position where he had a chance to make more plays.” 

Last season, Evans was depended on to emerge in the place of Shaun Dion Hamilton after he sustained a knee injury in the Southeastern Conference title game. Just like his 21 tackles in postseason action – 53 in all – Saban and the Tide expect the same commitment this season. 

“Since we lost some of the other guys that were pass rushing type guys, the two outside linebackers in the first game and Da’Shawn Hand, it’s important that we have him healthy and he makes the kind of contribution he can make, especially in the pass rush,” Saban said of Evans. 

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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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