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How Alabama Will Get Their Non-Offensive Scoring Mojo Back in 2018

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WANTED: Playmakers and Difference-Makers

AllState Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Alabama
Mack Wilson with the score.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

For the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the Crimson Tide had a remarkable run of scores on defense and special teams. On several occasions, these plays made up for a lagging offense.

These points came in many forms from several different players. Defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick (four career pick-sixes, blocked a punt and return for a TD) and Ronnie Harrison (pick-six, scoop & score, blocked punt for a safety) found a variety of ways to score in that time, yet, neither found the end zone in 2017. Eddie Jackson and Cyrus Jones were always a threat to bring one back in the return game. Kenyan Drake had a memorable kickoff return that you probably recall. But again, the 2017 squad struggled in the return game when it came to putting together big plays.

As a matter of fact, the Tide had only two non-offensive touchdowns for the entire 2017 season:

  1. Levi Wallace 35 yard Interception Return vs. Ole Miss
  2. Mack Wilson 18 yard Interception Return vs Clemson

Despite the lack of non-offensive scores for the Tide last season, they still won the National Championship. Even still, it is nice to have those extra digits on the scoreboard so a team does not have to go down to the wire. It just does not feel like an Alabama season without a pick-six or two or three or... seven.

THE SECONDARY

This Tide secondary will have all new starters. Deionte Thompson is the most experienced member of the secondary and could get the opportunity for some picks but it is uncertain as whether he has the elusiveness to return one to the house. The Tide has a slew of young talented defensive backs, but it could be the much-improved Trevon Diggs with the best chance at finding the end zone on a turnover.
Prediction: Two scores.

LINEBACKERS

Obviously, Mack Wilson is the most likely candidate for a non-offensive score. He has a nose for the ball and should get several opportunities this fall. Dylan Moses is prime for a big breakout this fall. He hasn’t done it in a game yet but Terrell Lewis could find the end zone at some point this season.
Prediction: Two scores.

BIG-UNS

The Tide always seems to get a score from a big guy. Whether it is Marcell Dareus, Jonathan Allen, or Da’Ron Payne, these boys gotta EAT! Raekwon Davis looks hungry.
Prediction: One score.

BLOCKED KICK RETURNS & SAFETIES

These kinds of scores are not as common as one might think. Alabama produced no safeties in 2017. Damien Harris blocked a punt and Minkah blocked a field goal, both against FSU. Neither were returned for scores.
Prediction: no scores.

PUNT & KICKOFF RETURNS

It is unclear if Nick Saban completely trusts anyone on the current roster to successfully field a punt and not put the ball on the turf. Diggs and Xavian Marks have found their ways into the doghouse a time or two. But fear not. Help is on the way. Incoming freshman Jaylen Waddle might be that gamebreaker/difference-maker that Saban has been searching for. If you doubt this young man’s ridiculous joystick skills, check the video below.
Prediction: Two scores.

RECENT HISTORY OF NON-OFFENSIVE SCORES

Below are lists of the non-offensive scores for Alabama for the 2015 and 2016 seasons:

2015

  1. Ronnie Harrison blocks a punt for a safety vs. MTSU.
  2. Minkah Fitzpatrick blocks a punt and returns 1 yard for a score vs. UGA.
  3. Eddie Jackson 50 yard Interception Return vs UGA.
  4. Minkah Fitzpatrick 33 yard Interception Return TAMU.
  5. Eddie Jackson 93 yard Interception Return vs TAMU.
  6. Minkah Fitzpatrick 55 yard Interception Return vs TAMU.
  7. Cyrus Jones 69 yard punt return vs. Miss St.
  8. Cyrus Cyrus 43 yard Jones punt return vs. Charleston Southern.
  9. Cyrus Jones 72 yard punt return vs. Charleston Southern.
  10. Keith Holcombe blocked punt for a safety vs Florida.
  11. Cyrus Jones 57 yard punt return vs. Michigan State.
  12. Kenyan Drake 95 yard kickoff return vs. Clemson.

2016

  1. Marlon Humphrey 18 yard Interception Return vs Southern Cal.
  2. Eddie Jackson 55 yard Interception Return vs. WKU.
  3. Eddie Jackson 85 yard Punt Return vs. Ole Miss.
  4. Da’Ron Payne 3 yard Fumble Return vs. Ole Miss.
  5. Jonathan Allen 75 yard Fumble Return vs. Ole Miss.
  6. Xavian Marks 75 yard Punt Return vs. Kent State.
  7. Ronnie Harrison 55 yard Fumble Recovery vs. UK.
  8. Tim Williams 23 yard Fumble Return vs. Arky.
  9. Minkah Fitzpatrick 100 yard Interception Return vs. Arky.
  10. Ronnie Harrison 58 yard Interception Return vs. Tennessee.
  11. Eddie Jackson 79 yard Punt Return vs. Tennessee.
  12. Jonathan Allen 30 yard Fumble Return vs. TAMU.
  13. Minkah Fitzpatrick 44 yard Interception Return vs. Florida.
  14. Joshua Jacobs 27 yard Return of Blocked Punt vs. Florida.
  15. Ryan Anderson 26 yard Interception Return vs. Washington.

Poll

How many non-offensive scores will the Tide have in the coming season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Two or less.
    (10 votes)
  • 60%
    Three to six.
    (336 votes)
  • 37%
    Seven or more.
    (205 votes)
551 votes total Vote Now