Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bama D-Line: Here There Be Monsters

By: @LivingCrimson

Jesse Williams Penn State 9-10-11 cropIn pure poundage, Alabama’s base defensive line is the equivalent of a full-grown grizzly bear. And with just as much bite. Each member chosen for his ferociousness in the trenches, these men are ready and able to wreak havoc on opponents.

If defense wins championships, then Bama has a huge paw up on the competition.

The Crimson Tide leads the SEC and is ranked fifth nationally in total defense, allowing only 9 points per game. Tide opponents are averaging just 2.5 yards per play, which also leads the SEC and ranks second nationally. Only once in seven years has a national champion fallen out of the top 10 in either of those defensive categories.

"I stopped checking for the monster under the bed when I realised the monster is me." –Tattoo on DE Jesse Williams

Spread offenses invest in passing yardage to win games. Pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run are essential keys to Coach Saban’s game-winning defensive strategy. He emphasizes technique in the 3-4 as a “better way to stop the pass.”

Nose tackle Josh Chapman (and rotation partner Nick Gentry) is asked to command double teams and prevent guards and centers from getting to second-tier blocking at the linebacker level. Ends Jesse Williams and Damion Square (and partners Quinton Dial and Ed Stinson) are in two gap coverage and defend power running plays, taking blockers head on and defending the gaps over each of their shoulders. In pass plays the defensive ends shed blockers and chase the quarterback out of the pocket, trying to sack him. This strategy frustrates offenses by clogging the middle and giving the linebackers in the seven-man front the opportunity to defend the edges and adjust the coverages.

Through two games, the Bama D-line has racked up 1.5 sacks, 2 passes broken up and 3 quarterback hurries. All of those categories are a per-game improvement on the 2010 season. The rushing average per game has been almost halved since last year and the passing average allowed is down by one-third.

“We wanted to prove to all the other teams in the nation that we aren’t messing around.” –DE Jesse Williams

Against the Tide defensive line, opposing offenses have managed only three scoring drives…with the speed of a cement truck. That speaks well of the primary asset Alabama will bring to bear against every team it plays this season.

Crazy ability. Or monsters with teeth. Take your pick.


NT Josh Chapman 9/13/11
DE Damion Square 9/14/11
DE Jesse Williams 9/15/11

Videos courtesy of Stats are found at

You can follow me on Twitter @LivingCrimson.


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