Jackets & Sweaters
Review of Alabama’s “Green” Defense
Midseason Defensive Review Shows Alabama’s Less Experienced Defense Is up to the Task
Bama Has Filled Holes in its Roster and Its Defense Is Gaining Momentum as the Season Progresses
While the University of Alabama Crimson Tide may have returned the majority of its starters on offense, Coach Nick Saban had to give the defense a fair retooling, rebuilding the starting line Bama’s championship caliber defense virtually from scratch; Bama’s defense lost eight starters to graduation andthe NFL draft, including both ends, the tackle, three linebackers, and both cornerbacks; as far as the Tide’s defense goes, even their Alabama sweats are probably green this year. However, many experts responded to early-season worries over the defense’slack of experience and comments about the huge shoes that they have to fill with the suggestion that this year’s defense might even be more talented than last year’s; if they can learn Saban’s system, they should be better on the field as well. The reality is that losing the core of its defense should make a repeat championship difficult for the Tide, who built their 18-game winning streak on big defensive plays. Plus, the absence of on and off-the-field leadership from players such as Rolando McClain and Terrence Cody is certainly expected to slow downthe defense’s march in the 2010-2011 season. Yet just like the experts who knew Bama well, after a few practices returners said that the new players showed a size, speed, and raw talent that spoke of great potential. Now, with several games under its belt, the defense has shown just that. After five games, Alabama had yet to lose and its defense led the country in scoring. One of those wins included the late-game comeback against Arkansas that relied heavily on the defense’s ability to grab key picks. It’s also worth remembering that three of this year’s defensive players are certainly not inexperienced: nose guard Josh Chapman, who spent the 2009 season in Terrance Cody’s shadow but as the physically strongest player on the team should steamroll a few opponents; lineman Marcel Dareus, who received the defensive MVP in the 2009 BCS title game for his sick interception return;and of course, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who had a mind-blowing freshman season and is now 100% recovered from a knee injury. In light of the defense’s showing so far and the quality of its new players andreturners, you might even feel the hits Bama deals out when you’re sitting on the couch at home in your Alabama sweats. They look that good.