Much of the heavy lifting has been done by its offense, but Alabama is starting to click on defense too.
After giving up 30.3 points per game in the first three matchups — including 48 points to Ole Miss — the Crimson Tide has allowed just 13.7 points per contest in its last three games.
Alabama pitched its first shutout in two years with a 41-0 win over Mississippi State on Halloween night. As it is starting to find an identity on defense, the success is coming from Dylan Moses getting better at middle linebacker.
He missed an entire season (knee) in 2019, but he seems to have regained his step.
In games versus Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi State, Moses has combined for 23 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one interception. He played a big role in the Tide recording eight shutout quarters, and allowing 13 third down conversions on 47 attempts (28 percent). The senior leads the team in total tackles (50) through six games and has 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and one interception.
He struggled early on, but Nick Saban said Moses finally has his sea legs under him.
“I think Dylan has played better and better as the season has gone along,” Saban said. “I think he is much more confident now. I think he feels better about the role that he’s in, in terms of assuming command and leadership, making calls, and trying to help other players play better. So, I am very pleased with the way he has progressed throughout the year.”
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, Moses was prepared to captain the defense last year.
A native of Alexandria, La., he watched Shaun Dion Hamilton, Rashaan Evans and Mack Wilson operate at the position and was poised to take it to another level. He sustained a serious knee injury in August camp and had to watch Alabama endure three losses, including one to Louisiana State University. Moses had to adjust back to football life, but he is comfortable again.
When it comes to finding an identity on defense, he said the goal is to not be complacent.
“Every single game we are building on that,” Moses said on Monday. “Our main goal is to play for 60 minutes and play one play at a time. I feel like that is the difference between our defense now versus the beginning of the season.”
He wants to lead young players, be the signal callers and have huge production, but sometimes having a lot of responsibilities can result to stress and a lack of focus on the main goal. After talking with Coach Saban, Moses appears to have found a balance.
“From the beginning all the way up to now, I felt like I had to find my identity again,” Moses said. “I had a lot on my plate at the beginning of the season and I had to level things out. I have met with Coach Saban on multiple occasions and it really helped me.”
His teammates have noticed his improvement too. Alex Leatherwood, a junior at left tackle, said it feels good to see Moses getting his ‘mojo’ back.
As for Patrick Surtain II, the junior at cornerback said Moses is the ‘alpha leader’ and ‘vocal presence’ on defense that gets everyone prepared to play.
An opportunity is still alive for Moses to be a first-round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft; however, he has to bring his A game during the second half of the season.
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