In 2013, the Alabama defensive line will be home to 15 linemen. This fact, and Saban’s overall philosophy of stocking his defensive lineman pool, is likely the reason his 3-4 defense plays in an actual 4-3 “80% of the time,” according to Bama’s head coach.
The Alabama defense is a complicated animal. The Tide switches defenses from its base 3-4 early and often, based on situational fronts that they see. “I’m very committed to it (the 3-4), if anybody would play regular people against us,” he said. “But we’re playing against so much three and four wideouts all the time, we’re in nickel or dime. That’s where the 3-4 defense is not really our base defense. You can pass rush better out of some kind of even front or flex front”.
Ed Stinson has earned his stripes as a veteran on the Alabama defensive line. In 2012, Stinson led the nation’s defensive linemen with 8.5 tackles for loss, and registered a career best 29 tackles, including 19 solo stops. In 2013 he enters his senior year labeled as one of the Crimson Tide’s top defensive ends, if not the best.
Adding to the experience on the line will be defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and noseguard Brandon Ivory, both juniors. The duo got their shair of snaps as back-ups last season, and will be called upon to do more this year, especially in the 4-3.
2013 could be an exciting one for sophomore defensive end LaMichael Fanning. The sophomore has shown great promise as a redshirt sophomore and has dropped a significant amount of weight making him the speedy, explosive defensive end that Alabama needs for getting pressure on the quarterback.
Dalvin Tomlinson, a redshirt freshman, gained more weight in the offseason to fit the needs as a fast, yet big interior defensive lineman. Filling this need could put Tomlinson in place for significant playing time on a defense that coach Saban wants a better pass rush from in the 2013 season.
Alabama defensive line gets pressure on the opposing QB
What should scare opponents about Saban’s intentions for the pass rush? In 2012 no team had more sacks than Alabama’s 35. But still, in the mind of Bama’s head coach who never rests, Bama’s pass rush was lacking.
With the departure of Jesse Williams, Quinton Dial and Damion Square, many capable underclassmen will have an opportunity to earn playing time this year. The 4-3 defense offers more personnel matchups, so Alabama will again employ a healthy rotation on the defensive front.
Joining the incoming squad are freshmen Dee Liner, Darius Paige and A’Shawn Robinson. The Tide switched Anthony Orr from outside linebacker to defensive end and splitting time between the two positions will be Xzavier Dickson.
With a mix of veterans and youth who can become dynamic playmakers for the 2013 Alabama defense, it will be fun to see if this unit does improve quarterback pressure from its already impressive stats.
Contributed by guest analyst Josh Smith Check on other portions of our Alabama football preview