It has its work cut out, but the task is not impossible.
Fans of the University of Alabama are used to seeing its football program wreak havoc defensively versus opponents. Since becoming the head coach in 2007, Nick Saban had just one group – prior to last season — to disappoint fans in terms of its performance on the field.
The 2014 bunch allowed 18.4 points per game (worst of Saban era), and forced 11 interceptions while surrendering 19 touchdown passes.
Alabama won a Southeastern Conference title, but could not match Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal to start 2015.
Last year showed signs of 2014.
Struggles on defense — due to an inexperienced coordinator and injuries — did not hinder the Tide from winning a conference ring; nevertheless, it kept the team from winning a national championship as Clemson tallied a 44-16 win for its second title under Dabo Swinney.
With leadership back on the coaching staff and bunch of experienced players back, Alabama looks to spearhead its revenge tour on defense.
Not to mention, it has talented student-athletes from its 2019 signing class who are ready to make significant contributions as freshmen.
In 2016, the Tide had leaders on defense that included Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson, Reuben Foster, Eddie Jackson, Tony Brown Minkah Fitzpatrick and Shaun Dion Hamilton among others that enjoyed playing with one another.
The motto for this group was sack quarterbacks, create turnovers and score points. These players did all three things – running a bunch that totaled 54 sacks (most under Saban) and forced 24 takeaways (11 for touchdowns).
Saban brings Raekwon Davis, LaBryan Ray, Dylan Moses, Anfernee Jennings, Terrell Lewis, Xavier McKinney, Trevon Diggs and Shyheim Carter back to Alabama’s roster as leaders.
Should everyone remain healthy, no one will want to face the “Bama Factor” in the fall.
In Thursday’s airing of In My Own Words, Stephen Smith of Touchdown Alabama Magazine breaks down why the Tide will be much better on defense next season.
You can listen to the audio version of the podcast via SoundCloud.
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