TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When he looked over, University of Alabama safety Landon Collins only saw legs flying in the air.

It was nasty cut block that had upended teammate Jarrick Williams, only the senior defensive back didn’t stay down. With Speedy Noil still coming right at him after making a short reception he launched himself off the ground and into the Texas A&M wide receiver for the solo tackle before calling over the sideline for a replacement.

“I said, ‘Man, that was a phenomenal play,’” Collins said when the threat was minimized and another Aggies possession resulted in a punt during last Saturday’s 59-0 victory. “He said, ‘Bra, that stuff hurted, though.’”

In some ways it reflective of what the Crimson Tide’s secondary has been through the past couple of seasons. It hasn’t been the prettiest of transitions between first-round draft picks at the cornerback position, but the unit is beginning to play with some real confidence.

“I think we just went out and we just wanted to prove a point,” senior free safety Nick Perry while making an indirect reference to Alabama’s 23-17 loss at Ole Miss on Oct. 4. “We felt like … we kind of overheard the media talking about we’re the weakest link on the defense and just wanted to go out and show the world that we’re not the weakest link. People have to prepare for us. We’re going to just build off that game, all the momentum, and just keep on pushing.”

A lot of last week’s success against Kevin Sumlin’s “Air Raid” offense obviously had to do with the improved play of the inspired front seven, but last year Texas A&M racked up 628 total yards, 363 passing, against the Crimson Tide. Although Alabama still pulled out a 49-42 victory at Kyle Field the position that struggled the most in the Sept. 14, 2013 matchup was cornerback.

Granted that was against quarterback Jonny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans, but the Aggies had still passed for 300-plus yards against every opponent this season. Quarterback Kenny Hill got off to such a good that he trademarked a nickname.

Coming into the Alabama game Texas A&M had lost two straight, but had 37 receptions and 365 yards against Mississippi State, followed by 42 catches for 401 yards against Ole Miss.

This time the Crimson Tide only yielded 19 receptions for 141 yards, and only catch resulted in a gain of more than 15 yards. When Alabama coaches started pulling the starters in the third quarter the Aggies had just 10 completions for 57 yards. The score was 52-0, Texas A&M had notched two first downs and was 0 for 7 on third-down conversions.

Yet a lot of the defensive backs have been spending extra time on the Jugs machine due to the numerous near-miss interceptions.

“We’re trying to get back to that top one and two spot with turnovers and stuff like that,” Collins said. “That’s what our coaches harp on.”

That’s a far cry from this time last year when it was musical chairs at cornerback, as there are now some signs of stability. Senior Cyrus Jones has been the Crimson Tide’s most consistent cornerback and sophomore Eddie Jackson has come back from knee surgery in the spring to make four starts including the last two games.

True freshman Tony Brown started two games in Jackson’s place when he also sustained a quad injury, and has emerged to be sort of the third man at the position.

With Williams also back in the fold at star, the fifth defensive back in the nickel formation, the unit has more of a veteran presence from even a month ago. One of really just two returning starters in the secondary he missed three games after sustaining a small foot fracture requiring surgery in the opener against West Virginia.

“It’s fantastic,” Collins said.

That’s not to say that a younger player wouldn’t have made similar play like Williams did after being upended, but there have been fewer breakdowns the past couple of weeks and the defense is clearly playing with more of an attitude.

“Jarrick is a guy who has played a lot of football around here and has a lot of experience,” Coach Nick Saban said. “He’s a bigger, more physical guy. His knowledge and experience puts him in a good position most of the time.

“The play you are referring to is a play they never run before and we kind of put ourselves in not great position. He ended up getting cut, popped right back up and made a play. That’s the kind of effort and energy we are talking about. Enthusiasm, whatever you want to call it.”

It was also the kind of play teammates will feed off of. The two subsequent snaps both led to sacks and Alabama’s following possession was a quick one with Amari Cooper scoring on a 45-yard touchdown reception.

“That was a grown man play,” junior linebacker Reggie Ragland said.