Tigers take on a physical defense of Alabama

While some have questions about this Alabama team after two close losses, defense isn’t one of the issues for the Crimson Tide as the group goes into the Iron Bowl on Saturday allowing just 17.2 points per game. Alabama’s defense strength is ahead, where teams have averaged just 107.2 yards per game this season, but even that has been a feast or famine for them this year.

Only four times this season have opponents rushed for more than 100 yards against Alabama, but in those games Arkansas (187), Tennessee (182), LSU (185) and Ole Miss (191) have combined eight of the 11 rushing touchdowns allowed scored this season.

What do these teams have in common? For one, they all have an athletic quarterback capable of playing with their legs and applying pressure to defense. The second? All four of those games took place on the street and outside of Bryant Denny Stadium.

For Auburn’s attack to be successful on Saturday, the Tigers will need to face a front seven that is among the best in the country and led by a group of linebackers playing all over the field.

Tennessee transfer Henry To’o To’o (6-2, 228, Sr.) is second on the team with 81 tackles this season and also has two sacks and six-and-a-half tackles for a loss in the middle of Alabama’s defense. Joining him at center is 6-2, 225 redshirt senior Jaylen Moody. This year, Moody has 49 tackles, two sacks and seven and a half tackles to a loss. The backups are highly acclaimed youngsters Kendrick Blackshire (6-2, 233, Sun.) and Deonte Lawson (6-2, 225, RFr.).

On the outside, this Alabama defense with the combination of Will Anderson and Dallas Turner becomes elite, as good as anyone in the country. After a monster year as a sophomore, the 6-4, 243 Anderson hasn’t been as dominant this season but still leads the team with eight sacks, 14 tackles to lose and 10 quarterback pressures. Not far behind is the 6-4, 240 sophomore gymnast. He has four sacks and seven tackles to one loss this season and is second on the team with six quarterback rushes.

Up front on the defensive line, this is a large, physical group that leads Alabama’s 3-4 pattern. It all starts in the middle with 6-3, 300 senior DJ Dale on top and assisted by youngsters Jaheim Otis (6-5, 348, Fr.) and Tim Keenan (6-2, 343, Rfr.). Dale and Oatis have combined three-and-a-half sacks with five-and-a-half tackles to one loss this season.

On one side is former 4-star recruit Byron Young. The 6-3, 292 junior has been prolific this season with 44 tackles, three-and-a-half sacks and five tackles to a loss. He’s assisted by 6-3, 278 Redshirt sophomore Jah-Marien Latham. On the other hand, Alabama has plenty of size with 6-4, 304 junior Tim Smith and 6-3, 309 redshirt sophomore Jamil Burroughs holding things tight.

The prolific DeMarcco Hellams (6-1, 208, Sr.) is leading a talented Alabama runner-up this season. With 89 tackles, Hellams is the team leader, Hellams has one of five interceptions for the team this year and also has a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Along with him for sure, 6-1, 206 Jordan Battle has 57 tackles as the last line of defense for the Crimson Tide.

One player Auburn needs to know where he stands at all times is 6-0, 193 stars/nickel Brian Branch. Branch is third on the team with 70 tackles, has two sacks and is second on the team with nine tackles to a loss. He’s someone Alabama uses heavily in the running game, and Auburn will see him at the line of scrimmage frequently.

On the outside, former 5-star cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry (6-1, 188, Sun.) and Eli Ricks (6-2, 190, Jr.) hold the top spots for Alabama with Reserve Terrion Arnold (6-) . 0, 188) a playmaker in its own right. Arnold has 45 tackles and is second on the team with eight pass breakups, behind only McKinstry’s 12.

DE 50 Tim Smith 6-4 304 Jr. Gifford, Florida.

98 Jamil Burroughs 6-3 309 R-Sun. Powder Springs, Ga.

44 Damon Payne Jr. 6-4 303 R-Fr. Belleville, Mich.

NG 94 DJ Dale 6-3 300 Sr. Birmingham, Ala. OR

91 Jaheim Hafer 6-5 348 Fr. Colombia, Miss.

96 Tim Keenan III 6-2 343 R-Fr. Birmingham, Ala.

DE 47 Byron Young 6-3 292 Sr. Laurel, Miss.

93 Jah-Marien Latham 6-3 278 R-Sun. Reform, Al.

SAT 15 Dallas Turner 6-4 240 So. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

34 Quandarrius Robinson 6-5 224 Jr. Birmingham, Ala.

35 Jeremiah Alexander 6-2 258 Fr. Alabaster, Al.

MIKE 10 Henry To’oTo’o 6-2 228 Sr. Sacramento, Calif.

40 Kendrick Blackshire 6-2 233 So. Duncanville, Texas

WILL 42 Jaylen Moody 6-2 225 R-Sr. Conway, SC

32 Deontae Lawson 6-2 225 R-Fr. Mobil, Al.

JACK 31 Will Anderson Jr. 6-4 243 Jr. Hampton, Ga.

41 Chris Braswell 6-3 240 Jr Baltimore, MD.

CB 1 Kool-Aid McKinstry 6-1 188 So. Birmingham, Ala.

23 Jahquez Robinson 6-2 197 R-Sun. Jacksonville, Fla.

CB 7 Eli Ricks 6-2 190 Jr. Rancho Cucamonga, California.

3 Territory Arnold 6-0 188 R-Fr. Tallahassee, Fla. OR

6 Khyree Jackson 6-3 198 Jr. Upper Marlboro, MD.

FS 2 DeMarcco Hellams 6-1 208 Sr. Washington, DC

8 DeVonta Smith 6-0 185 So. Cincinnati, Ohio

SS 9 Jordan Battle 6-1 206 Sr. Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

13 Malachi Moore 6-0 190 Jr Trussville, Ala. OR

11 Kristian Story 6-1 211 Jr. Lanett, Ala.

STAR 14 Brian Branch 6-0 193 Jr. Fayetteville, Ga.

13 Malachi Moore 6-1 190 Jr Trussville, Ala