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Alabama’s defense will thrive under first-year DC Pete Golding

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

He’s too young. This is Tosh Lupoi all over again. We need a bigger name. 

All three statements were made by Alabama fans, upon hearing the news of Nick Saban promoting Pete Golding to defensive coordinator in the offseason. In his promotion of LupoiSaban did it as a sign of respect toward his recruiting acumen.

He was awarded National Recruiter of the Year after having a huge hand in the Crimson Tide signing the No. 1 class for 2017 that included Tua Tagovailoa, Najee Harris, Dylan Moses and Jerry Jeudy. 

RELATED: Alabama WR DeVonta Smith snubbed from 2019 Preseason All-SEC Team

Regardless of his ability to get the talent and coach up outside linebackers, Lupoi had never called defenses prior to last season.

A native of California, he was a defensive line coach at the University of California at Berkley and University of Washington.

Lupoi arrived at Alabama as a defensive recruiting intern in 2014 and was then promoted to on-field assistant coach in 2015. 

He was wet behind the ears and it was because of this that Saban had to not only micromanage the situation, but the Tide had its worst season statistically last year. Even with it posting a pair of shutouts — LSU, Mississippi State — from the first game to the final matchup, Alabama had issues in coverage, suffered mental lapses on assignments and did not affect quarterbacks. 

Lupoi’s replacement is not a big name; however, it’s one that had Saban smiling at Southeastern Conference Media Days.

He spoke highly of all the coaches, but his new primary defensive play caller reminds him a lot of himself. Like his boss, Pete Golding is old school. 

Hailing from Hammond, La., the 35-year-old has been grinding for a chance to put his stamp on an elite program. Unlike Lupoi, Golding called defenses for nine years at Tusculum College, Delta State (Alma mater), Southeastern Louisiana and University of Texas-San Antonio before arriving to the Tide in 2018 at co-defensive coordinator.

At each stop, the former safety made each school better – especially the young institution of UTSA, which originated in 2012. 

Golding was hired at defensive coordinator in its fifth year and by its sixth season, he had the Roadrunners boasting one of the best units in the nation. UTSA allowed just 17 points per game and defensive back Nate Gaines collected four of the team’s 13 interceptions in 2017. 

One player has already fallen in love with Golding. 

Dylan Moses, a junior, speaks the language of his position coach.  

The returning leader at inside linebacker is a Louisiana native as well. Upon asking Moses about Golding, the former five-star smiled and said “I am confident in his ability to lead our defense.” 

“He’s very smart,” Moses said of Golding. “He’s a nitpicker. So, with him, he looks at everything I do and tries to find something wrong with it and tells me to fix it immediately and he gets on to me about it. That’s something I admire about him for doing, because it makes me better as a player. He’s from where I am from. He’s from Hammond, but that is 45 minutes away from Baton Rouge so he and I have a close relationship.” 

Moses will enter fall camp on the Chuck Bednarik watch list and a first-teamer for the preseason All-SEC Team. He led Alabama in tackles (86) in 2018 and collected 10 tackles for loss with 3.5 sacks. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder was a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award – presented to college football’s top linebacker – last year and with Golding, he will be even better. 

With his experience as a coordinator and defensive backs’ coach, Golding fits the requirements Saban wants.

Having an elite mindset as a defensive back helped Saban become the best college football head coach, and he had both Kirby Smart and Jeremy Pruitt of the same mantra. 

Some of the Tide’s best work defensively came in 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016 with the right group of players and the right coordinator.

The student-athletes that it needs for success are back and with Golding in place, Alabama has the coordinator to win a national championship.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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