Alabama football: Isaiah Buggs’ emergence coming at perfect time for Tide’s defense

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For most programs, losing a player the caliber of Da’Shawn Hand would be a death blow for a defense, but Alabama football has been able to absorb the loss in large part due to the emergence of Isaiah Buggs.

In the Tide’s first game with Hand, Buggs took his play to another level in Alabama’s 27-19 win over Texas A&M.

“I think Isaiah has gotten better and better every week,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He certainly probably played his best game in the last game. He’s a very instinctive player. He’s strong. He’s got athletic ability to finish on the quarterback.”

Entering the Texas A&M game, Buggs had 12 total tackles in five games. He nearly doubled that total against the Aggies, posting a team-high 10 tackles, including 6 solo.

Buggs, a junior college transfer, also delivered punishing blows to ball carriers as he was all over the field Saturday. When he wasn’t making the stop, Buggs did a good job of setting the edge and forcing ball carriers back into the middle of Alabama’s vaunted defense.

Alabama hopes Buggs can continue his strong play as the Crimson Tide welcomes Arkansas into Tuscaloosa for homecoming on Saturday. Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Buggs is tied for second on the team among defensive linemen with 22 total tackles. Buggs also has 3 quarterback hurries and 0.5 sacks.

Alabama right tackle Matt Womack often faces Buggs in practice.

“He’s a great pass rusher,” Womack said. “Every pregame he gets me ready because he always has good inside moves and he’s definitely a strong guy, quick guy. I went a lot against him in A-Day and stuff like that. He’s always giving me good looks, too.”

Once Alabama gets Hand back, Buggs’ emergence should only make the defensive line better.

Going forward, Saban and the coaching staff want to do a better job of substituting defensive linemen so guys aren’t worn down.

“I think one of the things that we’ve really worked hard — and this has been a little bit of an issue and it was working well for us until we lost Da’Shawn Hand —  is how we rotate the front guys to keep them fresh,” Saban said. “Because when he gets a little bit tired, it affects him some as a player, which is not all his fault. I mean, we need to keep guys in the game that are fresh. He’s getting better at it, but I also think we need to help him a little bit by making sure that we’re rotating enough that he can stay fresh.”

The post Alabama football: Isaiah Buggs’ emergence coming at perfect time for Tide’s defense appeared first on SEC Country.

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