CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

College Sports

September 11, 2010

ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Defense comes up big

TUSCALOOSA — Devon Smith only need four words to sum up Alabama’s defense.

“They were really physical,” the Penn State wide receiver said following a 24-3 loss to top-ranked Alabama Saturday night.

Physical and stingy is more like it.

And an emphasis should be put on the stingy part, too.

How stingy has this Alabama defense been? Well, the unit has yet to give up a touchdown through two games.

Not bad for a revamped defense, huh? Remember, this is a unit that had to replace nine starters from last season … one that was without its best defensive lineman, Marcel Dareus, for the second straight game.

All of those new pieces, and yet the results have remained the same.

Penn State found that out the hard way.

The Lions didn’t have a player rush for more than 32 yards, and quarterback Rob Bolden was under duress all night. Bolden struggled to 144 yards on a 13-for-29 performance.

“They’re a great group of guys,” Alabama defensive lineman Josh Chapman said of Penn State’s running game. “But we feel like we can be the best defensive line in the country. We practice day in and day out and feel like nobody can stop us.

“They’re a great program, but nobody can do what we did tonight.”

Unlike San Jose State the week before, Penn State’s offense did threaten to score on more than one occasion.

But whenever the Lions drove deep into Alabama territory, the Tide’s stingy defense came up with a timely play.

Alabama forced four turnovers — three interceptions and a fumble — with all of them coming deep in Crimson Tide territory.

“We had a great game plan,” said Tide linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who helped force the first turnover when he hit Bolden in the pocket as he released the ball. The hit created an errant pass that was intercepted by William Lowrey.

“We made a couple of mental errors, so we’ve got to get back in the film room and correct those,” Hightower added. “But we caused turnovers in the red zone, though, and that helped us a lot.”

 ‰ Justin Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 257 or by e-mail at jgraves@cullmantimes.com.

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