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Film Room: Shane Lee had the best game of his season against Mississippi State

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Freshman linebacker continues to improve.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Lee has had an up-and-down season, as you’d expect from a true freshman. He’s had his struggles, particularly getting picked on in the passing game; but Lee has kept at it and has had a couple of good games the last two weeks.

The competition was not what he’ll face against Auburn, but it was encouraging. Lee had a career-high 10 tackles against Mississippi State and added a QB hurry for good measure. Saban praised the freshman afterwards.

“Shane probably played one of his best games of the year, made a lot of plays and did a good job, a better job of tackling,” head coach Nick Saban said Monday. “We still have the occasional mental error by some of the younger guys that shows up, but I thought this was his best performance, most consistent game, and I see him sort of starting to develop confidence in what we’re asking him to do and how he’s going about doing it on a consistent basis.”

1st and 10: It’s Mississippi State’s first offensive play. They have a tight formation with two receivers on either side, and the running back is to the quarterback’s right. Lee (#35) is in zone, and he passes off the receiver on an in-breaking route. Lee keeps his eyes on the quarterback Tommy Stevens and shuffles to his left. Stevens apparently doesn’t see him and tries to throw it to the receiver on the hitch route. It goes right to Lee, who hauls it in for the pick. It’s not an outstanding play or anything by Lee, just did what he was supposed to.

2nd and 8: Lee sees running back Kylin Hill go out for a pass, and he immediately goes after him. Hill runs a wheel route, which could stress Lee. He has struggled with his speed at times this year, but not this time. Lee is running step for step with him; and, when we get another look downfield after a desperation heave from Stevens, Lee is still with Hill and had forced him out of bounds with his coverage.

3rd and 5: Lee drops back into coverage initially but reverses course when he sees the run. Jordan Battle (#9) and Xavier McKinney (#15) have already grabbed ahold of the running back; but Lee comes up and stands him up, stopping his forward progress and helping force the fourth down.