Alabama football has been at its best under Nick Saban when young players contribute to the team.
In its six national championships, the Crimson Tide has had several young players be impactful. This year’s team will need the same effect to win a championship. Tide fans started to see this group find itself against Mississippi. Alabama earned a 24-10 victory at home over the Rebels. Coach Saban saw many young names emerge in crucial spots to pick up a marquee win.
Tim Kennan III was a young name that emerged on defense.
The Birmingham (Ala.) native pressured Ole Miss’ quarterback Jaxson Dart from his nose tackle position. Kennan flushed Dart out of the pocket multiple times and totaled three quarterback hurries. Jihaad Campbell, a former five-star linebacker, filled in admirably for an injured Deontae Lawson. He knocked Dart out of the game with a crushing hit and recorded seven solo stops.
Caleb Downs, a former five-star, was significant in run support. The freshman defensive back came from his safety position to make crucial tackles on Rebels’ running back Quinshon Judkins. He also finished tackles on wide receivers and totaled five stops with a pass breakup. Terrion Arnold is in his third season, but he’s only a second-year starting cornerback. He has come on strong in the last two weeks, especially versus Ole Miss. Arnold led the Tide in total tackles (eight) and breakups (two) while getting an interception. Dart tried to test him by going away from Kool-Aid McKinstry, but Arnold responded well with plays.
Kendrick Blackshire has found himself as a linebacker. He looked smooth in back-to-back weeks as he had three tackles, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hurry versus Ole Miss. Offensively, Jalen Hale (freshman) was the lone young name that had a considerable impact on the game. He led Alabama for receiving yards (63) on two catches with a touchdown reception.
If Alabama can continue getting contributions from its young players, the team will be deep and balanced to make a College Football Playoff National Championship run.
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