Just how serious is the broken ankle injury to Alabama’s Brian Motley for Alabama’s defense this season? It could be devastating, according to one coach I spoke to. This coach (not associated with UA) has run the 4-3 defense, but attempted to explain the philosophy behind the 3-4 to me. After my eyes glazed over, we hit Google for a layman’s explanation and found a very readable and understandable article here.

Of course the key quote is several paragraphs into the story: The key player in a 3-4 scheme is the lone interior lineman, who is usually called the nose guard or nose tackle. He lines up directly across from the center — on the center’s “nose” — though he may sometimes shade over to the space between the center and one of the guards. He almost always has two-gap responsibility. His job on nearly every play: force two offensive linemen or more to block him.

It is a very simple, non-technical explanation. And it raises the difficult question, Does Alabama have any interior lineman capable of forcing two linemen to block him?

The consensus answer this morning is No.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get production from some of the younger players, but early in the season it puts the already thin defensive line into a precarious situation—especially for the Vanderbilt game, where linemen and linebackers will have their hands full due to an athletic quarterback.

The only question I have is: Will Alfred McCullough see playing time? I’ve been very high on McCullough since watching him play during his senior season. He has tremendous potential, but I’ve not heard anything about him this fall.

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