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How Alabama freshmen can benefit from the Bye Week

Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Alabama football is off this week, but it doesn’t mean Nick Saban is taking it easy. 

The team had Monday to rest, however, the remainder of the week will be filled with players returning to fundamentals and improving some things as the Crimson Tide starts its long run to the College Football Playoff. It recently leaped over Clemson for the No. 1 ranking in college football and while it is cool, Alabama is more about earning its stripes on the field. 

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With seven true freshmen – five on defense, one on offense, one on special teams – starting this season, a bye week gives them a chance to get healthy, learn more of the system and become more acquainted with the standard they must play to.

After a few nerves versus Duke, the game has started to slow down for a few guys. Players are gaining confidence, but the idea for Saban and Pete Golding (defensive coordinator) is putting them in situations to gain more knowledge. 

In reflecting on words from Alabama linebacker, Dylan Moses from Southeastern Conference Media Day, he said the biggest part for the young players is ‘staying in the film room.’ 

Learning the tendencies of an opponent and disrupting an offense from generating success off those cues is important. Expect Saban and a few older players to challenge the freshmen to mentally prepare for a matchup versus Texas A&M.

Regardless of its 3-2 start, the Aggies have been inconsistent on offense through five games. The work that Jimbo Fisher and Kellen Mond showed in year one has not progressed to this season, yet next week remains a huge contest. 

Mond still has the element of creating plays with his legs. 

The Tide must locate an athletic linebacker to spy him, while challenging each throw and filling gaps in the run game. Expect to see a lot of tackling, blocking and substitution signals among other things, as Alabama looks to clean up mental mistakes in the second half of the season. 

Contrary to popular belief, Alabama’s defense is not terrible. 

It is not what people are used to, but it is not terrible.

Currently, the Crimson Tide is 13th nationally in scoring defense (14.8 ppg) and is in the top-40 in total defense (325.8 ypg, 38th). A couple of plays in the red zone were over pursued by its linebackers, which led to touchdowns versus New Mexico State and Ole Miss. Pairing that with a questionable targeting call on Christian Barmore, and it resulted in a late score for South Carolina in week three. 

If one negates these things, Alabama allows 49 points in five games instead of 74 and it changes the average from 14.8 to 9.1 points allowed.

The defense will get better and all it needs is to lock down on some things, technique wise. A lot has to get one prepared for competition that not on the same level with it, but the bye week will have the Tide ready to roll against Texas A&M.

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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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