Help is on the way for Tide’s defense

TUSCALOOSA, Ala — Alabama football opens SEC play Saturday afternoon with a matchup against Vanderbilt.

Alabama (3-0) travels to Nashville to face the Commodores (3-0) for the first time since 2007. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

Here are a few fan-submitted questions we wanted to address in our Alabama football mailbag.

Are the injured linebackers back this week? 

Alabama linebackers Rashaan Evans (groin), Anfernee Jennings (ankle) and Dylan Moses (undisclosed) all returned to practice this week, and appear to be doing fine.

Evans was back at the front of the inside linebacker line by practice Wednesday. Moses showed no signs of being limited. Jennings appeared to be limited early in the week, so he’s the one to watch Saturday.

Here’s the latest from Saban on the trio as of Wednesday morning.

“All three of those guys are practicing,” Saban said. “Anfernee seems to be doing fairly well. Dylan Moses seems to be doing fairly well. Rashaan Evans is making progress every day. Hopefully he’ll continue to progress. We’ll see how he comes along as the week goes on but all three of those guys have been back practicing and we’re pleased with the progress that they’re making.”

Will Alabama’s defense step it up this week?

Alabama’s intensity at practice picked up. We saw coaches, including Saban, getting after players if a mistake was made.

Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said he, Shaun Dion Hamilton and others made an effort to fly around every rep so the young players could follow their lead.

Look for Alabama to be more sound on defense this week as it looks to improve on shaky tackling and a poor third-down defense from last week.

Is Vanderbilt’s defense legit?

All the numbers say yes. Vanderbilt has allowed 13 points and is riding high off a 14-7 upset over then-No. 18 Kansas State last Saturday.

Vanderbilt fields a stifling defense powered by Mason’s play-calling. Vanderbilt leads the SEC in scoring…

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