Alabama’s defense can look to the middle of the field and know Mack Wilson will be there. The junior inside linebacker rarely comes off while the first-team defense remains in the game.
He’s the nerve center of the defense, its brain. He is also its tongue.
“Sometimes I lose my voice because I’m trying to make sure all of us are on the same page, and that’s something I take pride in, also,” he said.
Wilson has reason to take pride. Alabama’s defense held Missouri to a season-low 212 yards and 10 points last Saturday. The Tigers had averaged 530 yards and 39.2 points entering the game.
He finished with a season-high 11 tackles and also had his first career sack in the victory. That helped him be named one of Alabama’s defensive players of the week.
On the Monday before the Missouri game, after Alabama surrendered 31 points in a win at Arkansas, Wilson posted on his Twitter how he felt responsible for the team’s defensive struggles.
I’ll take the blame on how this defense been performing even though we been winning. There’s a difference between winning and there’s a difference in making the other team quit, and that’s our goal every game! That’s just how we built at Alabama, its the STANDARD. 🙏🏾 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/MYFMmCas5w
— Lyndell “Mack” Wilson Dirty3o™️ (@iam__mw3o) October 8, 2018
Coach Nick Saban had spoken before the season about the responsibility that accompanied leadership and Wilson’s progress in that area. Saban isn’t one to check social media, but he did like what he saw from Wilson on the field.
“He played really well last week,” Saban said Monday. “… He’s very productive and did a better job of making adjustments in the game with the front, got us in the right things. I thought Mack did a really good job in the game.”
Wilson said he heard his coach’s message during the summer. It resonated with him then and continues to be part of his motivation.
“Everybody comes up to me and makes sure that I’m locked in, I’m ready, stuff like that,” he said. “Definitely when Coach Saban went to the media and said that he wants me to be that guy, that’s when it really just clicked for me and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to step up and take command,’ basically.”
He’s closer to that point now than he was at the start of the season as the Alabama defense continues to work at its goals. Wilson is sounding more and more like the voice his coaches and teammates want him to be.
“I feel like every day, there’s always room for improvement,” Wilson said. “I feel like there’s a standard of what we need to play like every week. That’s just another stepping stone toward the goals we’re trying to get to. So, back to work to go. We’re not satisfied ever.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.