Yesteray, I asked our readers which position group other than quarterback surprised them the most in the Alabama game. When I craft these questions, I try to foresee whether they're easy to answer. I don't want to present something that's just obvious and boring.
I wasn't sure how this one would go. Then the first three responses were different from one another, and nearly every unit was represented as an answer.
I do think it's a tough choice. The simple response (and maybe the right one) is the offensive line. A more negative response (also valid) is the PAT group. However, I'm going to choose the safeties.
Cody Prewitt is an All-American. Tony Conner was a freshman All-American. I get it. I know that cheapens the "surprise" factor a bit. However, upon rewatch, the play by all three starting safeties was just other worldly. It should come as no surprise that they finished as the top three tacklers in on the team. They were all over the field at all times and helped hold Blake Sims (who had been lighting the world on fire) to 19/31 with 228 yards, no touchdowns, and a pick. Amari Cooper was held to underneath routes, though he had some success with that on the final drive.
But it wasn't just the passing game. T.J. Yeldon was fantastic and tough to stop. He definitely got his. Sophomore phenom Derrick Henry, however, did not. Henry was held to 17 carries for 37 yards. That's just a 2.2 yard per carry average, and it's a big reason that Ole Miss was able to come back. That was a group effort, but the safeties were obviously tremendously involved, Tony Conner in particular. Conner was flying from sideline to sideline, tackling ball carriers just past the line of scrimmage a good bit.
The entire defense played great ball, but the safeties made it work.