COLUMBIA, S.C. — It wasn’t the standard Alabama is used to, but the defense got the job done Saturday.
It’s not ideal to give up 324 passing yards, including several plays of 15 yards or more, but Alabama did stop South Carolina when it mattered – in the red zone.
Three times the Gamecocks had drives of 60 or more yards, only to have them result in two field goals and a failed fourth-and-goal before halftime.
“They did a great job of executing in the red zone when we needed to, but it was disappointing that we didn’t execute better.”
Saban said there was a lot of confusion with some of the younger players with making adjustments, so the whole defense had to adjust.
“We had to stay pretty simple with what we were doing. When the field shrunk we were able to get stops,” Saban said.
Freshman starting linebacker Christian Harris was taken out in the second half and replaced with Ale Kaho.
“There was a lot of confusion with the young players with the formations and the motions they were doing,” Saban said. “We tried to get (Harris) out of the game and get settled down and put in Kaho. He decided to leave Kaho in because he’s a good player and he needs to get some experience himself.”
South Carolina rolled up 459 yards of offense and was not able to put a consistent rush on quarterback Ryan Hilinski, who was sacked three times but still managed to have a somewhat clean pocket to work with.
A lot of that had to do with an up-tempo scheme and catching the Tide defense off guard with a hard count, resulting in off-sides penalties.
“They were trying to hurry up on the line so we couldn’t get our calls together,” Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis said. “They played at a faster tempo and kept us on our toes so that we couldn’t get aligned right, and tried to keep us frantic, keep us on edge. They tried to keep us off balance and getting us off sides. Everything they did we gave them.
“They made it to where I couldn’t get a sense of the game and the snap count. That’s just part of the game.”
Alabama gave up a first-quarter score and another score in the last seconds of the game. In between, Alabama was inconsistent and couldn’t get off the field. That resulted in South Carolina running 86 offensive plays.
“Our goal was to come in here and play a complete game. I thought we did that on offense. I think we ran out of gas on defense,” Saban said. “But 86 plays on defense is a lot, especially in conditions like this. We still need to do work to play to the standard we are capable of playing to.”