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Alabama Football Film Room: Bama turns it on against the Aggies

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The defense once again provided the spark for Alabama to pull away

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M hung around. Despite jumping out to a 13-0 lead, Alabama allowed the Aggies to score 14 unanswered points. The Tide responded with a third quarter touchdown drive to make 20-14, but it was still too close for comfort.

Then the defense did what it does; it scored. Given a little buffer - and a little more help from the defense - the offense scored again to seal the deal. Over the course of just a few plays, it went from being a close, six point game to a comfortable, 19 point game.

1st and 10: Texas A&M has moved into Alabama territory. Bama is in its nickel defense with Reuben Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton both in. Hamilton is shaded over to the left to help Marlon Humphrey with the two wide receivers (Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk) stacked there. Harrison is deep on that side as well. Reynolds moves up to block Humphrey, and Kirk turns and faces Trevor Knight, who gets the snap and immediately throws to Kirk. Reynolds does a horrible job of blocking Humphrey, who shoots by. Humphrey hits Kirk before he’s fully turned and drops him for a two yard loss, putting A&M behind the chains.

2nd and 12: Texas A&M keeps the four receivers, but they have trips right this time. Knight fakes the quick screen to Reynolds as Kirk goes deep. Ronnie Harrison and Humphrey aren’t fooled and pick up Kirk. Meanwhile, the Aggie offensive line has gone into turnstile mode, somehow failing to block any of the four rushers. Ryan Anderson beats the right tackle outside. Dalvin Tomlinson grabs and throws the right guard aside. Jonathan Allen does the same to the left guard and goes to the outside. Tim Williams takes a step outside before going back inside on the left tackle. His swim move beats the tackle, and the center can only give him a shove as he gets into the backfield. With the deep route to Kirk covered and four Crimson jerseys charging at him, Knight has nowhere to go. Instead of accepting his fate, he futilely scrambles backwards. Williams brings him down for a 14 yard sack.

3rd and 26: A&M again has trips right. Keith Ford is in the backfield to the left of Knight. Anderson has his hand in the dirt, rushing on the left side of the defensive line. The Aggies leave him unblocked and pull both the right tackle and guard to the left. Knight takes the snap and tries to put it in Ford’s chest, but the running back never has control. The ball bounces off Anderson; and Jonathan Allen, who hit the A gap quickly and blew by the left guard, is there to scoop it up. Allen avoids Knight’s attempted tackle and rumbles 30 yards for Alabama’s 12th non-offensive touchdown of the year.

1st and 10: Alabama’s defense forces a three and out on the ensuing drive, thanks in large part to a Trevor Knight fumble. That fumble cost the Aggies 12 yards, and Eddie Jackson would return the punt for 17 costly yards in a play that ended with his fractured leg. The offense had good field position, though. They come out in 11 personnel. O.J. Howard is lined up as the H-back and motions to the right side. Jalen Hurts receives the snap with Damien Harris to his left. DE Daeshon Hall is left unblocked and attacks Harris. Hurts correctly reads it, keeping the ball and darting up the middle. He cuts to the right once he gets to the second level to avoid LB Tyrel Dodson. Hurts sees his path to the sideline cut off, so he plants his right foot and turns up field to gain an extra yard.

1st and 10: Alabama again has its trusty 11 personnel out there, though Robert Foster (the lone receiver to the right) is in for Dieter. Stewart is wide right, and Ridley is in the slot next to him. It’s supposed to be a pass, but Hurts sees that it’s covered and quickly makes the decision to take off running. The poor linebacker Shawn Washington is spying Hurts, and he moves to cut him off. He pursues too hard, though; and Hurts cuts back to the inside, leaving Washington on the ground. Hurts cuts again to the left, leaving another Aggie on the ground. The Assassins don’t plan on letting the play end either. Ridley turns, goes low, and takes out one defensive back. Stewart, showing off that hustle, has come streaking downfield to block another defensive back. Those two cleared the final path for Hurts to scoot into the endzone, putting Alabama up by three possessions.