Just A Minute: With So Many Freshmen, Alabama's Defense Pretty Impressive Under the Circumstances

Christopher Walsh

Those who have been critical of the Alabama defense this season need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Yes, the tackling could have been better against LSU. No the play-calling has not been perfect. But give some credit to the opposition, as well.

Alabama plays in the SEC, which is the toughest conference in college football. These are the best of the best, and the coaches spend months preparing to face each other.

Sometimes you get the feeling that an opponent spent just about all of the offseason getting ready to face Alabama. LSU was one of those games, and, quite frankly, it comes with the territory.

Alabama ranks 27 in the nation in total defense, and just like last year is 12 in scoring defense.

Most Crimson Tide fans would have taken that the moment linebacker Dylan Moses was lost for the season.

But he hasn’t been the only injury, and now Alabama is starting five-plus freshmen on the defensive side.

That’s half the defense.

That there hasn’t been a bigger drop-off has been remarkable.

Just about every single athlete who has played for Nick Saban at Alabama will tell you it takes a minimum of a year to get everything down, regardless of position (expect for kicker and punter, of course).

Senior safety Jared Mayden said today that it took him “every bit of 2 1/2-3 years” to get the pass coverages down.

That’s just the pass coverages. Linebacker Shane Lee is trying to get the play-called down as well.

He’s getting it down, though. So is Christian Harris. So is DJ Dale. So is Byron Young. So is Jordan Battle. So are all the reserves.

Nowadays, offenses are going to get some points and yards even against the most veteran and talented defenses.

If anything, Alabama’s defense has been better than most realize, and a lot better than most are giving credit.

DEFENSIVE YEAR-by-YEAR CHART

Alabama defense national rankings

Year Total (yards), Scoring (points), Rushing (yards), Pass Eff. (rating)

2007 31 (345.5);  27 (22.0);  28 (124.2); 38 (117.21)

2008 3 (263.8); 7 (14.3); 2 (74.14); 14 (106.68)

2009 4 (256.6);  2 (11.7); 2 (78.14); 2 (87.67)

2010 5 (298.0); T-3 (13.5); 10 (110.15); 6 (103.54)

2011 1 (177.6); 1 (8.2); 1 (72.15); 1 (83.69)

2012 1 (252.9); 1 (10.9);  1 (76.36); 6 (103.72)

2013 5 (295.8); 4 (13.9); 7 (106.2); 26 (116.84)

2014 13 (337.0); 6 (18.4); 4 (102.4); 30 (116.53)

2015 1 (266.2); 3 (15.1); 1 (75.7); 8 (105.22)

2016 2 (261.8) 1 (13.0) 1 (63.9) 9 (106.47)

2017 1 (260.4);  1 (11.9);  1 (94.7);  2 (96.78)

2018 16 (319.5); 12 (18.1); 19 (121.3); 23 (115.79)

2019 27 (328.9);  12 (17.5);  40 (137.3);  18 (114.50)

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