Impact Players

Mack Wilson’s emergence has led to Tide defense latest achievement

© John David Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

It is not the Tim Tebow speech from Florida’s national championship season in 2006, but it works just as good for Alabama fans. Despite hanging 65 points on Arkansas, the fan base was not pleased with how the Crimson Tide’s defense gave up 31 points to the Razorbacks and looked confused at times in certain moments.

While it has taken this group time to adjust with the additions of Craig Kuligowski, Karl Scott and Pete Golding on the coaching staff, it seems as though Alabama has started to hit its stride under first-year defensive coordinator, Tosh Lupoi. 

He prides himself on being a leader and his flamboyancy no knows bounds; however, junior linebacker Mack Wilson took the criticism seriously following the matchup with the Hogs and vowed that the program would see a different defense. The Montgomery (Ala.) native has been exceptional in standing by his word, especially with the Tide pitching shutouts in two consecutive weeks against Louisiana State University and Mississippi State University. 

No mental hangover occurred defensively from LSU to Mississippi State, as Wilson and company rendered the Bulldogs to six first downs, 169 yards of offense – 44 yards rushing – and one third down conversion on 13 attempts. Alabama’s defensive front sacked quarterback Nick Fitzgerald four times and safety Jared Mayden added a fifth take down in the second quarter. 

Wilson was one of five players to have five tackles and also totaled one pass breakup and one quarterback pressure.

Because of his diligence, walk-on punter Mike Bernier has created a new hashtag to compliment this defense. After he found a way to pin the Bulldogs inside its 20-yard line on one of his five kicks, he took to Twitter to show love for his team and dropped the hashtag. 

In the aftermath of blanking two Southeastern Conference opponents, Alabama’s defense now allows 12.7 points and 283 yards offensively per game. Regardless of the worries that happened earlier in the season, Nick Saban sees his unit is now tied for first (with Clemson) in the nation in scoring defense and is eighth in the country in total defense. Wilson is a semifinalist for the Dick Butkus Award – goes to college football’s top linebacker – but he is eyeing a national title. 

He and the Tide host the Citadel next week at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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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