Alabama defense hopes to make amends for rough stretch
TribLIVE Sports Videos
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama spent two months barely seeming to miss all those defensive stars now in the NFL.
The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide has certainly felt their absence the past two weeks when it became evident this defense doesn't quite measure up to the lofty standards set by the 2009 and 2011 national championship groups.
The still-formidable defense has had uncharacteristic missed tackles and struggles getting the opposing offense off the field on third downs against No. 8 LSU and No. 9 Texas A&M. No game-changing pass rusher like linebacker Courtney Upshaw has emerged, either.
Alabama (9-1), which hosts Western Carolina (1-9) on Saturday, was leading the nation in every major defensive category just like last year's group before showing more vulnerability against the Tigers and Aggies. Those teams both managed more yards and points than any other offense had against the Tide this season.
“The last two weeks, lots of issues not getting off the field on third down, which hasn't been a real factor all year long,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “But in the last two weeks, we gave up 14 points in the second half at LSU, going 0 for 7 on third downs during that time and we started this (Texas A&M) game 0-for-7 on third down and got behind in the game because of it. When you create those situations you've got to get off the field.
“It's not just the pass rush. It's also the discipline of everybody doing what they're supposed to do in rush as well as coverage.”
In those two games, the defense has given up 853 yards, a 55-percent conversion rate on third downs — more than double the success rate going into those games — and scores on all but one of the opponents' seven trips inside Alabama's 20-yard line.
Only Georgia Southern's option attack managed to produce 300 yards against Alabama in 2011.
Most teams would still love to have Alabama's defensive issues this season, especially after losing three NFL first-round picks. Alabama still leads the nation in scoring defense and is second in total yards allowed. Plus, cornerback Dee Milliner and linebacker C.J. Mosley are semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award given to the nation's top defensive player.
“I don't think we have a dominant rusher like we had a year ago,” Saban said. “I think we have guys that as a unit and as a group can be effective.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Locke pitches 8 scoreless innings as Pirates edge Indians
- Art Institute of Pittsburgh offers different kind of ‘Magic’ show
- Butler County continues to experience population growth
- Opera Theater’s Summerfest ranges from classics to world premiere
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Indians, July 5, 2015
- Natrona Heights man’s work helps lure purple martins back to Harrison Hills Park
- Change buildings, but don’t shortchange them
- Road Trip! Destination: The Merritt Parkway, Conn.
- Cooking Class: Pork and Cabbage Potstickers at Everyday Noodles
- Government contractor FCi Federal expands into Butler
- California woman’s tale of Army Reserve service told in Sen. McCain’s book