Alabama’s stud linebacker Will Anderson contributed in every way possible to a 63-7 rout of Louisiana-Monroe. He had five tackles (1.5 of them for a loss), a sack, and an interception that he brought 25 yards the other way into the Warhawks’ end zone for his first career touchdown. Nick Saban and co. were able to go up 2-1 in the all-time series between the schools with the win. Saban notoriously lost to ULM in his first season in Tuscaloosa back in 2007 but got even in 2015 with a 34-0 shutout.
The defensive suffocation, led by Anderson’s all-around efforts, was right on par with the offense’s overwhelming two-level attack as to why the Crimson Tide was never in danger on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Bryce Young threw two interceptions but was able to find the end zone 3 times through the air and once with his feet. The run game, in particular, shined against ULM. Alabama’s RB room went for 239 yards while Jalen Milroe added another 42 yards on 2 first down-acquiring quarterback sneaks.
Anderson, who is one of several Heisman candidates on the Crimson Tide roster, received heavy praise from one of his star teammates in defensive coordinator Peter Golding’s nationally No. 17-ranked unit. Sophomore cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry endorsed Anderson over teammates Bryce Young and Jahmyr Gibbs to be the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner during his postgame media scrum:
#Alabama CB Kool-Aid McKinstry on Will Anderson’s pick-six : “Heisman. What he can’t do?”
— Charlie Potter (@Charlie_Potter) September 17, 2022
Will Anderson Rebounds From a Penalty-filled Game Against Texas
Entering Week 2 as a 19-point spread favorite over Texas, Alabama nearly lost their potential shot at being one of the four College Football Playoff finalists in a game that went wire-to-wire and was decided in the closing seconds.
Their near self-inflicted undoing was their sloppiness on both sides of the ball from penalties. Alabama was flagged 15 times — one less than the program’s all-time record. It was the most for a Nick Saban coached Crimson Tide. Will Anderson committed 3 of those penalties, lining up offside twice and he laid a late hit on a Texas ball-carrier that had already been called down.
While he once again got hit with a flag in the first half, Anderson was the star of the defense on Saturday and played a mostly clean game. If he can reduce the sloppiness and avoid being reckless when he gets a hold of the ball-carrier, Alabama will not be stopped this season.
Nick Saban on Alabama’s Special Teams Success vs. ULM
While the special teams isn’t on the field nearly as much as the offense or the defense, they can play a pivotal role in close games. Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe certainly didn’t fit that description on September 17, but the Crimson Tide special teams had itself a historic day.
262 punt return yards, a 68-yard return for a touchdown by Brian Branch, a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and a Jahmyr Gibbs 57-yard kickoff return comprised the special effort from Alabama’s special teams.
Nick Saban had nothing but praise for Coleman Hutzler’s special teams group in his postgame comments. “Well obviously if you get 262 yards, block a punt, score a touchdown, that’s pretty good stuff,” Saban said. “To this point in the season, and I challenged the players this week on that, we had not made one explosive play or significant play in the game with special teams. We didn’t do anything that really hurt us, but we weren’t making special teams an advantage to us. Today the execution was a lot better, and we were able to take advantage of it.”