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Impact Players

Will Anderson and Dallas Turner becoming a dangerous pass-rushing duo for Alabama

Dallas Turner (#15) and Will Anderson (#31) celebrate a fumble recovery for Alabama versus Arkansas
Butch Dill - USA TODAY Sports

When the Crimson Tide won a national title in 2015, part of its success was the dynamic pass-rushing duo of Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson.

The two outside linebackers feasted on quarterbacks and ruined the play-calling of offensive coordinators.

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Both players competed for sacks and totaled 16.5 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, and 14 quarterback hurries. A consistent pass rush is huge for Alabama on this national title run.

Will Anderson emerged as an impact starter in 2020. He collected seven sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, and eight quarterback hurries in his freshman season.

Will Anderson (#31) of Alabama tackles Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson

11/20/21 MFB Alabama vs Arkansas
Alabama linebacker Will Anderson (31)
Photo by Crimson Tide Photos

The coaching staff looked for him to rise as a leader, and he has exceeded expectations.

Anderson is a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the best defensive player in college football. Despite some inconsistent moments from Alabama’s defense, the sophomore has the unit in a position to win a national title. He has 13.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss. Anderson, a former five-star, ranks first in the nation for both categories.

He is second for Alabama in total tackles (78). Coach Nick Saban has mentioned a lot about how he ‘loves’ coaching Anderson.

He enjoys the leadership and energy Anderson brings. Football means a lot to him, and fans see it each week on the field. People have wondered who would help Anderson going forward.

RELATED: Alabama fans react to Nick Saban calling out the ‘self absorbed’ fan base

Dallas Turner, a freshman, has accepted the challenge.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder was inspired by Anderson’s first year with the Tide. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Turner was a wrecking crew at St. Thomas Aquinas and American Heritage high schools. He earned his first start versus Texas A&M and has been growing.

Turner has 21 tackles – including 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks – three quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery in 11 games.

He and Anderson have been competing to drop quarterbacks. He’s taken Turner under his wing, and the freshman is enjoying it.

Dallas Turner (#15) in his stance for Alabama versus Arkansas

11/20/21 MFB Alabama vs Arkansas
Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner (15)
Photo by Crimson Tide Photos

“Football is fun, and that’s what I have expressed to him,” Anderson said to reporters about his conversations with Turner. “He is starting to see it. It is becoming easy for him. It’s fun when you get sacks and celebrate with your teammates. He’s enjoying it and having fun. We preach in the locker room to have fun, and it’s paying off for him.”

Saban has been pleased with how Turner has stepped up.

“Dallas Turner has done a really nice job for us,” Saban said. “He’s gained a lot of confidence and experience. He does not make a lot of errors in the game. He’s a smart guy, and he prepares the right way.”

Drew Sanders is continuing to get better from a hand injury, but the depth of having Turner is working for the Crimson Tide. The same brotherhood that Williams and Anderson had in 2015 lies with Anderson and Turner.

The tandem is becoming a dangerous pass-rushing duo.

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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.

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