TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – Marcus Banks and Kool-Aid McKinstry got their first career starts on Saturday in Alabama’s home opener against Mercer. While the young players performed well at the edge of Crimson Tide’s defense, they were given first-team opportunities because Alabama starting cornerbacks Josh Jobe and Jalyn Armor-Davis were not. in uniform.
Head coach Nick Saban hasn’t revealed exactly why Jobe and Armor-Davis didn’t play against the Bears, but he was optimistic the two will be available for next week’s game in Florida.
“I think the other guys should be back,” Saban told reporters after the game. “We didn’t think their injuries were that bad to begin with, but they were a bit more serious than what we initially expected or thought they would be. They weren’t about to practice all week, and I didn’t want to play guys in the game if they weren’t training against this offense, okay.
“Because there are a lot of spins and a lot of different things going on, if you don’t ask the reps to do it, some of the game passes they’ve had – which we didn’t match very well.” at the end of the game, especially with the second team, are really tough. You have to be really disciplined and have disciplined eye control to play. But I think these guys will be back.
Banks, a junior, started on the left side of the defensive lineup and recorded four tackles, half a loss tackle and the first interception of his career. The pick came in the third quarter after Alabama took a 45-7 lead via a Bryce Young touchdown to Jase McClellan.
McKinstry, a true freshman and the nation’s No.1 corner rookie in 2020, started at the right corner and registered six tackles, which was tied for second in Tide’s defense, a pass break and an interception. McKinstry’s choice came in the first quarter after a special team goal and established the first offensive touchdown of the game for UA (Brian Robinson, 4 yards).
Mercer quarterback Fred Payton threw for 159 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns in the second half. But overall, Saban was happy with the young corners, especially the first year.
“I thought he did a good job, I really did it,” Saban said of McKinstry. “He knew the game plan. He prepared well. He played well in the game. On the long touchdown pass I don’t know if he should have been in the back half or if he should have called his guy.
“I know we broke in the backend on that one, and we broke on the other touchdown pass that they threw as well. New group – one team is handling one thing, the other is handling something else, so we have no one in the deep end of the pitch. But I thought Kool-Aid was doing well.
Alabama will then play on the road in Florida on Saturday, September 18 at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.
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