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The total solar eclipse is temporary, the Alabama defense isn’t

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Even though it will only be for a short period of time, people in the state of Alabama need to be prepared for total darkness. Starting sometime before noon and lasting until around 3:00 pm CT, the United States will see its first total solar eclipse since Feb. 26th, 1979.

A solar eclipse is when the Moon passes between the Earth and Sun, eliminating any chance of seeing sunlight from the Earth. Witnessing this phenomena is special, but it’s temporary. It occurs during a three-hour window every 35-40 years.

Dealing with Alabama’s defense isn’t, however. It’s something that the college football world has to deal with on a constant basis. It’s one of the main obstacles standing in the way of any team’s chances at a national championship. Now, not every team has to face the Tide’s defense in a given season, but in most cases, they do if they want to win it all.

All you have to do is look at the past two years. During that time period, Alabama has averaged only giving up 14 points per game, the best in the country. In addition, the run defense has finished ranked first each of the last two seasons as well — including giving up only 959 yards over the course of the entire 2016 season.

When you break it down further, the dominance becomes even more clear. The SEC’s top four rushers last season — in yards per game — were Kamryn Pettway, Derrius Guice, Nick Fitzgerald and Rawleigh Williams III. Considering Guice only received two carries against Alabama, we can go ahead and include Leonard Fournette’s production in that game as well.

That’s a total of 121 yards on 54 carries — an average of 2.2 yards — with only one rushing touchdown. Over the course of the rest of the season, those five players combined for 6,068  rushing yards and 57 touchdowns. The dominance wasn’t just against star running backs, however.

When going against some of the SEC’s (and Washington’s John Ross) best receivers from last season, Alabama was able to keep their production limited. Only 197 yards on 24 receptions — an 8.2 yards per catch average — with only two receiving touchdowns. Similar to the running backs, these players dominated when going against defenses other than Alabama’s — combining for 4,809 receiving yards and 59 touchdowns.

There is no other way to put it, Alabama’s defense is simply smothering. No matter a player’s previous success, they find themselves in a difficult match up when going against the Tide.

Alabama will be looking to replace several key starters including Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster and Marlon Humphrey — all first-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft — but don’t be surprised if they remain a stingy unit to go up against.

Unlike the solar eclipse, which is set to end by this afternoon, expect the Tide’s defense to continue their smothering of opposing offenses.

 

Clint Lamb is an associate editor for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “follow” him  on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

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