ORLANDO — Deionte Thompson was all over Louisville.
The Alabama defensive back made five tackles, broke up three passes and even snagged an interception during the Crimson Tide’s 51-14 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday at Camping World Stadium. He was UA’s third-leading tackler.
Three plays into the second quarter, Louisville had its first shot at scoring points. It wasn’t in the red zone, but close enough – 26 yards out – to make something happen. Quarterback Jawon Pass chucked a second-down pass into the left corner of the end zone. It was caught.
“Everybody else was doing their job,” he said. “I just made a break up the field. Everybody else dominated their box, and it made it easier for me.”
The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder returned it to the 25-yard line before he was taken down.
As a redshirt junior, Thompson is the most experienced player in Alabama’s secondary – which lost all of its starters from last season – since he at least started both of the College Football Playoff games.
“He makes me become a better player,” Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy said.
Prior to the turnover series, the Crimson Tide forced the Cardinals’ offense to go three-and-out for their first two appearances. The same thing happened two more times in the following period.
Alabama, with 28 points itself, kept Louisville off the scoreboard in the first half.
“We’ve been a little sloppy at times, especially on defense, so we’ve got a lot to work on,” UA coach Nick Saban said at halftime. “We’ve made a number of mistakes on defense (but), you know, they haven’t been able to capitalize on them, so we need to get it fixed.”
Louisville went into its locker room with a total of 111 offensive yards – 11 rushing and 100 passing. The largest play it mustered through the air was a 27-yard reception from running back Trey Smith. On the ground, Pass had an 11-yard run – that was just one of Louisville’s 10 rushes; the team had minus–11 rushing yards in the second quarter.
The Cardinals finally made moves and broke into the red zone with their second drive of the second half. A 47-yard long shot from Pass to wide receiver Seth Dawkins got them there. And then a 12-yard pass to tight end Kemari Averett put Louisville’s first points up.
“When you see a guy running wide open and nobody around him that means somebody messed up,” Saban said. “Because we don’t have any defenses where a guy doesn’t get covered.”
He said that happened about three times; they were more mental errors than anything.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Averett caught another pass – this time an 8-yarder – for another score.
Louisville finished with 16 rushing yards. Pass ended up completing 20 of his 39 passes for 252 yards.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff we can improve in,” Thompson said. “That’s our overall goal, just improvement. We’ve got a lot of good things we can take away from this week, and we’ve got a lot of stuff we need to improve on as well.”
Defensive back Shyheim Carter also had an interception, and his 45-yard return turned into a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.