Alabama Football News

Alabama’s young defensive players stepped up in win over Mercer

Drew Sanders with a tackle for Alabama in its game versus Mercer
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics/ SEC Media Portal

Before its home opener against Mercer, Nick Saban told local reporters that Alabama would feature some young players in the matchup. A few names on defense earned an opportunity to emerge, and they did not disappoint fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a 48-14 victory.

Drew Sanders, a sophomore, started at outside linebacker. 

RELATED: Alabama coaching staff names six Players of the Week from Mercer game

The 6-foot-5, 244-pounder replaced an injured Christopher Allen (foot) and did a great job setting the edge.

Mercer could not get outside of Sanders on run plays, as it totaled 48 yards on 38 carries. He recorded two tackles and two pass breakups while pressuring Fred Payton at quarterback. Sanders, a former five-star recruit, was all over the field.

Coach Saban mentioned last week that the team has confidence in him, but it was good to see Sanders perform well.

Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry, a freshman, started at cornerback.

The five-star replaced Josh Jobe and tied for second in total tackles (six). He collected a pass breakup and his first career interception. Sanders tipped one of Payton’s throws, and McKinstry made the play.  He and DJ Dale both celebrated on the sideline. Despite giving up a touchdown, McKinstry played well. In his post-game presser, Saban said McKinstry did ‘fine.’

“He knew the game plan. He prepared well,” he said. “He played well in the game.”

Chris Braswell, a sophomore, replaced an injured Will Anderson in the second half.

Anderson sustained a lower leg (knee) injury and did not return for the rest of the game. Braswell, a former five-star, had three tackles, a quarterback hurry, and a blocked punt that Jase McClellan returned for a touchdown. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder did well in the offseason, and Saban said after spring practice that the coaching staff needed to find a role for Braswell.

RELATED: Alabama vs Southern Miss kickoff time and TV network announced

Marcus Banks, a junior, played well at cornerback.

He started in place of Jalyn Armour-Davis and tallied his first career pick. Banks, a native Texan, totaled four tackles. Alabama’s young defensive players assisted the team to three sacks, eight tackles for loss, two interceptions, and five breakups. The Crimson Tide has to clean up its penalties, but it will be ready to battle Florida on Saturday to open its Southeastern Conference schedule.

*Get the BEST Alabama football insider information, message board access, and recruiting coverage today! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our subscriber-only content!*

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

Facebook Comments

To Top