Alabama Crimson Tide
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Secondary steps up for No. 1 Alabama
The Alabama secondary, featuring all new starters and trying to somehow replace first-rounder Minkah Fitzpatrick, hasn't been a weakness so far this season.
The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide (3-0, 1-0 SEC) gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of last week's game against Ole Miss, but then went into shutdown mode against a dangerous aerial attack.
Ole Miss completed just six more passes the entire game.
When it was over, Alabama had won 62-7, allowing Ole Miss to complete seven of 22 passes for 133 yards. The Tide came up with two interceptions while working against a trio of wideouts, including first-rounder AJ Brown.
"That was a great group of receivers," said Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs. "It was the best group of receivers we've played so far.
"'We just took on the challenge. We just worked hard in practice, studied the film, studied what they do, see what they like to do and stuff like that. It was a great challenge for us, a great test for us, a great group of guys. I feel like we did pretty well."
Alabama's challenge this week is to stop Texas A&M sophomore Kellen Mond, who nearly directed an upset of then-No. 2 Clemson two weeks ago.
But the Tide has survived the early challenges, ranking seventh nationally with a team passing efficiency defense rating of 91.83.
Freshman Patrick Surtain II has made an impact at cornerback (as has junior college transfer cornerback Saivion Smith).
Safeties Xavier McKinney and Deionte Thompson each had an interception against Ole Miss and combined to force a fumble to end the Rebels' biggest scoring threat after the touchdown.
McKinney scored on his interception return, while Thompson's 40-yard return set up an eventual touchdown.
"It's huge," senior linebacker Christian Miller, who had 2.5 sacks on Saturday, said of the safeties. "I credit those guys for the sacks I got. If it wasn't for them and the corners with their great coverage it wouldn't be possible. They've been doing a great job."
And they sure don't look like a weakness.