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Isaiah Buggs looking like this year’s Jonathan Allen for UA defense

Alabama DE Isaiah Buggs (No. 49) during positional drills on Thursday leading into Missouri game: Brian Pride - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

He was trying to fit in with the culture last season, but now Isaiah Buggs has accepted his role of being a consistent force on Alabama’s defensive line. For a second straight year after arriving in Tuscaloosa from Mississippi (junior college), Buggs has elevated his level of player on the heels of a game versus Texas A&M.

He was one of few bright spots for the Crimson Tide in its meeting with Arkansas and returned with a fearsome performance in a 39-10 win on last week. 

Buggs refused to let a third consecutive player rush for 100 yards on Alabama, as he guided the front that limited Missouri running backs Larry Rountree (48) and Damarea Crockett (eight) to a combined 56 yards rushing on 24 carries. Tyler Badie had the best night for the Tigers, totaling 6.8 yards per carry on six rushes without losing a yard. While the senior defensive end assisted in shutting down the Tigers’ ground game, he provided a bigger impact in affecting Drew Lock. 

Lock, Missouri’s senior quarterback, completed just 50 percent his throws (13 for 26) and was sacked four times. Buggs was credited with one of the take downs that resulted in a loss of 22 yards and a forced fumble, which linebacker Anfernee Jennings recovered for the Tide. 

Video comes from Inside Bama Recruiting (Twitter).

Bryant-Denny Stadium erupted during the sack as it was Buggs seventh of the season, which leads the team. He also anchors the program in tackles for loss (eight). The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder fed off the crowd to the tune of three tackles and one quarterback pressure to go alongside his other numbers. Alabama’s defensive line embraced the challenges from Nick Saban, defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski and defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi all week leading up to the homecoming game; however, Quinnen Williams offered the best praise to Buggs. 

“He’s been playing great,” Williams said of Buggs.  

“He has really been a great leader and he is really a freak of nature out there. He’s just big, fast and strong coming off the ball. He’s everything and we are just proud of him. We want him to keep leading us in the right way and keep on doing what he has to do to be better for the team.” 

Former Tide star Jonathan Allen became a monster during his final two seasons (2015, 2016) in the program. He accounted for 22.5 sacks, 30.5 tackles for loss, 21 quarterback pressures and three fumbles returned for touchdowns in both years – earning him All-American honors (among other individual awards) and led to him being selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. 

Buggs brought that type of impact into Saturday’s game and with the obstacles ahead, the coaching staff hopes he can continue building off this performance.

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 @CoachingMSmith.

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