Mack Wilson stewed. So did his position coach, Pete Golding. It was not long after Alabama beat up on Arkansas in a 65-31 victory that both lamented a defensive performance that was subpar by the Crimson Tide’s lofty standards.
Golding and Wilson, the team’s silver bullet of an inside linebacker, began texting. The overarching message, according to Wilson?
“We’re going to watch extra film,” Wilson recalled.
Wilson had just surrendered three catches for 42 yards against the Razorbacks and afterwards assumed responsibility for the communication breakdowns that allowed the Hogs to complete 65 percent of their pass attempts.
“I felt like that was one of my worst games of my life,” Wilson said.
Wilson, who lives part of his existence on social media, expressed his frustration and accepted blame in an Instagram post.
He then did what Golding told him to do and spent additional time after practice reviewing footage of Missouri.
“I feel like that helped us out tremendously,” Wilson said. “I was able to read the calls and check. I knew what plays were coming and I was telling the other guys and they were able to make plays and stop the run.”
In Alabama’s 39-10 victory over the Tigers, Wilson authored his best performance of the season, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
He led the Tide with 11 tackles and also contributed a sack. Even better, he held up well in coverage, allowing only one reception for 12 yards — three of which came after the catch.
With Wilson shepherding the defense, Missouri could gain little momentum. The Tigers produced only 212 yards of total offense — less than half their season average entering the game.
“With a lot of new guys playing we tried to disguise some things in the secondary, because they do a lot of Nike, which means they’re going to look at the sideline, see what you’re in and our guys were doing a good job of changing things,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We kind of had orchestrated so they knew exactly how to do what they were doing and I think a couple times, things changed on them a little bit that might have made them a little bit hesitant.”
Wilson, by relaying the signals correctly, did his part to force the Tigers to operate with a hint of reluctance.
He certainly seemed to think so afterwards when he met with reporters. In a far different mood than he was following the victory over Arkansas, he seemed relaxed — maybe even satisfied.
“I felt like I played tremendously well and I was able to make plays and I was able to call the defense very smoothly and I was able to know what everybody else was doing,” he said. “I took it upon myself to try to do my best to make sure the defense is doing the right things. That’s something I take pride in.”
Rainer Sabin is an Alabama beat writer for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @RainerSabin