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Freshmen linebackers, UA defense stifling Blue Devils in the first half

Alabama HC Nick Saban talking to ESPN's Tom Luginbill after a game in 2018
Marvin Gentry - USA Today Sports

Alabama football has a 14-3 lead on Duke at half time, and the combination of Shane Lee and Christian Harris at inside linebacker is making Nick Saban look like a genius.  

Despite the Blue Devils going with an option look, Lee sniffed out plays and filled running lanes in the first half.

A native of Maryland, the four-star totaled five tackles – including a big fourth down stop.

Saban mentioned in his presser on Wednesday that Lee was giving signals and calling the second-team defense, but he looks good with the first group.Harris has two tackles from his weaskide linebacker spot. 

DJ Dale, a four-star, got the starting nod at nose tackle and has three total tackles.

Raekwon Davis, senior defensive end, is displaying his leadership. 

He collected four tackles (one solo), while redshirt senior Anfernee Jennings led the team with five total tackles. LaBryan Ray has three stops for the Tide and in his first game back since the 2018 College Football Playoff title matchup versus Georgia, Terrell Lewis recorded a sack.  

RELATED: Week 1: Alabama vs. Duke 2019 game day preview

Alabama held Duke to 103 yards offensively (42 passing yards). 

It got off to a rough start, but the Tide’s offense found its rhythm in the second quarter. 

Tua Tagovailoa had an efficient first half, completing 16 of 19 pass attempts for 208 yards and a touchdown pass to tight end Miller Forristall. It was the junior’s first-ever touchdown reception and it comes after he did not play much in 2018.

Forristall, a native Georgian, sustained a season-ending knee injury in 2017 – during a game versus Colorado State. 

Jerome Ford, a redshirt freshman, leads all backs with 21 yards on six carries. 

Both Najee Harris and Brian Robinson have both been effective – since returning from suspension – and Robinson has a rushing score.

As for the Tide’s receiving unit, the trio of Jaylen Waddle, Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith were all strong.

Jeudy leads Alabama in receptions (five) and receiving yards (59). Smith was targeted four times and caught all four passes for 46 yards, while Waddle brought in two passes for 55 yards.  

RELATED: Alabama 2020 NFL Draft projections

The Tide’s offensive line has blocked for 252 total yards. 

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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.

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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