Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Texas defense key to stifling Alabama in signature road win

Lorianne Willett
Linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. celebrates a tackle during Texas’ game against Alabama on September 9, 2023.

Alabama is one of the toughest places to play in college football, now with a home record of 103-9 under head coach Nick Saban. The loud and hostile environment of Bryant-Denny Stadium makes it hard for defenses to communicate, along with Alabama’s usually stellar offense. 

This was not the story for Alabama against Texas.

Anthony Hill is a true freshman linebacker. In his first career start against No. 3 Alabama, he had four solo tackles and two sacks in Texas’ 34-24 win in Tuscaloosa. Texas defense has been the key to winning games, and on Saturday, Hill was not the only star. 

In the first quarter, Alabama sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe threw an interception to Texas’ senior defensive back Jahdae Barron. Milroe then threw a second interception to senior defensive back Jerrin Thompson, who had a sizable return but was brought down at Alabama’s 5-yard line. 

Thompson’s interception gave sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers and the Texas offense the field position to seal the win, giving Texas a 10-point lead.

“The tight ends gave me an easy read,” Thompson said. “We knew (Milroe) is a one-read guy, and I read my keys and (the ball) came to me.”

Thompson had one solo tackle and helped out on three more. Senior defensive back Jalen Catalon led Texas with six solo tackles and seven total looked like he was flying around the field at times. The Arkansas transfer is no stranger to an SEC environment, and it showed in his lights-out play. 

Texas’ defense held Alabama, a team that averages 431 yards and 56 points per game to just 342 yards and 24 points. The Tide hurt themselves with penalties, committing 10 penalties for 90 yards, giving Texas more chances to get Milroe and his offense off the field. 

While Hill was the star of the show, he was not the only one to sack Milroe. Sophomore edge Ethan Burke and senior linebacker David Gbenda also joined in on the fun. 

“Anthony is one of our young guys, and he’s really smart,” Thompson said. “He can be a big time player for us and is a core linebacker you need to stop the run.” 

Hill had a late-game sack which head coach Steve Sarkisian said was a game-sealing tackle. Alabama is known for its explosive offense, and its biggest play was a 49-yard touchdown pass. 

“To play really good defense, A: you have to stop the run, and then B: you have to try to affect the quarterback,” Sarkisan said. “(Alabama) hit some plays, but in the end we stopped the run (well) enough. They hit a couple explosive (plays), but were able to create two turnovers and then we made plays in critical moments.”

Texas’ defense is led by senior Jaylan Ford, who had five total tackles and two solo tackles. Ford said that this game was a big win, but Texas’ work for the season isn’t done just yet. 

“The taste of success is very sweet,” Ford said. “This (win) is something that we embrace and take in to keep us moving, use it to catapult us going forward. We have a long season ahead of us still.” 

Although this win was Texas’ first time beating a top five team in over a decade, there’s still a long season ahead. 

“Like I said coming into the game, this game is not going to define our season,” Sarkisian said. “We have 10 more regular season games to play, but I think it does serve as a good benchmark for us. So, it shows what we’re capable of and the potential of who we can be as a team moving forward.” 

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About the Contributor
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.