Bad Defense or Changing Game?

gtgilbert

All-American
Aug 12, 2011
2,062
556
137
Could well be, but it's when you ain't in the same ZIP code with your coverage and thus don't even get a chance at bad tackling that's a sign of the golden, er, Golding era, er, error of bad 'Bama defense.
Some of it isn't on Golding though. It's a product of the 3-3-5 nickel package we run (or sometimes the 2-3-6 dime), in that there are times when the back out of the backfield is the ILBs responsibility, and there are times where it is the OLBs. Sometimes this responsibility is determined post-snap. Saban had this in the toolkit long before golding arrived. This is where things get crossed up and some OCs have figured out how to show the right things to make us miss the coverage. Make the OLB read release and the ILB read another key and the RB wheel is open. In an ideal world, we'd realize we are not making those reads the right way and change something so that it's not a post-snap read, but known pre-snap, or change the philosophy so that our 3-3 morphs into a 4-2 so the OLB is truly a pass-rush DE specialist.
 

TiderJack

Hall of Fame
Jul 9, 2010
10,469
2,556
182
Inverness, AL
I personally think it is scheme (coaching) and overall lack of 1st round talent/difference makers. However, I will remind everyone that the 2015 team that won it all against Clemson (45-40) gave up 550 yards in the national championship with Kirby Smart as the DC and players like, A'Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson, Da'Shawn Hand, Daron Payne, Jarran Reed, Reggie Ragland, Rashaan Evans, Reuben Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Marlon Humphrey, Tony Brown, Eddie Jackson, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cyrus Jones. I think literally every one of those guys is currently in the NFL and multiple were 1st rounders. I would kill for those guys to be on this defense in 2020.
There are four 1st rounders in many mock drafts for '21 on our defense (Surtain, Moses, Barmore, Ray). I can see at least three more future ones in Harris, Anderson and Battle. Jobe and Moore could possibly be 1st rounders as well. Your point is valid about the 2015 defense being amazing but this year's defense has a bunch of 1st rounders.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CoachJeff

gtgilbert

All-American
Aug 12, 2011
2,062
556
137
There are four 1st rounders in many mock drafts for '21 on our defense (Surtain, Moses, Barmore, Ray). I can see at least three more future ones in Harris, Anderson and Battle. Jobe and Moore could possibly be 1st rounders as well. Your point is valid about the 2015 defense being amazing but this year's defense has a bunch of 1st rounders.
agreed, but we are also starting 2 true freshmen, and 4 out of 5 new starters in the secondary. At least two of the coverage busts from mizzou were on TF (Sanders on one, Moore on one) with them also having to be in sync with two brand new safeties...
 

BamaMoon

Hall of Fame
Apr 1, 2004
14,991
3,381
182
Plano, TX
Some of it isn't on Golding though. It's a product of the 3-3-5 nickel package we run (or sometimes the 2-3-6 dime), in that there are times when the back out of the backfield is the ILBs responsibility, and there are times where it is the OLBs. Sometimes this responsibility is determined post-snap. Saban had this in the toolkit long before golding arrived. This is where things get crossed up and some OCs have figured out how to show the right things to make us miss the coverage. Make the OLB read release and the ILB read another key and the RB wheel is open. In an ideal world, we'd realize we are not making those reads the right way and change something so that it's not a post-snap read, but known pre-snap, or change the philosophy so that our 3-3 morphs into a 4-2 so the OLB is truly a pass-rush DE specialist.
Wow, thanks for the technical breakdown. This clearly seems to be part of the problem. It's hard to believe even an experienced LB could make those reads correctly all the time.

What would have to change/what would we give up if all the reads became presnap (in terms of which LB covers wheel routes)? I'm assuming CNS believes that would compromise something else or he would likely do it.
 

TiderJack

Hall of Fame
Jul 9, 2010
10,469
2,556
182
Inverness, AL
agreed, but we are also starting 2 true freshmen, and 4 out of 5 new starters in the secondary. At least two of the coverage busts from mizzou were on TF (Sanders on one, Moore on one) with them also having to be in sync with two brand new safeties...
Agreed. I was just commenting on his point that we have no 1st round talent on defense which is not the case. We are very inexperienced on the back end and it will probably show again this week but hoping we are better by the time we play UGA. This defense has the potential to be very good.
 

RollTide_HTTR

Hall of Fame
Feb 22, 2017
5,213
905
132
Our defense isn't where I hoped it would be but our offense is better than I hoped so far.

Clemson, Ohio State, and Florida are the teams that give me the most pause if we were to paly them.

Georgia will be interesting but I'm not sure I buy that their QB can beat us.
 

gtgilbert

All-American
Aug 12, 2011
2,062
556
137
Agreed. I was just commenting on his point that we have no 1st round talent on defense which is not the case. We are very inexperienced on the back end and it will probably show again this week but hoping we are better by the time we play UGA. This defense has the potential to be very good.
We are on the same page. Just illustrating that even with top tier talent, when they don't yet have a lot of experience mistakes can happen
 
  • Like
Reactions: Con

The Ols

All-American
Jul 8, 2012
3,571
2,716
187
Cumming,Ga.
As with most things, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Has the game changed? Absolutely. Is our defense bad? Yup...

Yes, we are averaging tons of points since 2018. We are also averaging 0 national championships...
I don’t think our defense is “bad.” We’re moving to the ball so much quicker than last year. Without a couple late 4th quarter TDs we’re not having the same conversation...
 

BamaMoon

Hall of Fame
Apr 1, 2004
14,991
3,381
182
Plano, TX
I've been watching some of the Saturdays in the South: A History of SEC Football episodes. First, if you haven't watched these you need to do so. I've watched the 60's and 70's episodes and I'd say half of both of these are about Alabama and Coach Bryant. Great stuff and so well done.

But, what I couldn't help but notice is most games where typically something like 17-7 or 14-0. In a high scoring game the winner might score in the 20's.

No question the game has changed with offensive efficiency and ability to score quickly. As long as we continue to be a quick strike scoring offense, we'll inevitably give up more points.

The alternative is to try to be more balanced, which we thought we'd be this year. Yet, when teams load up to stop the run we throw it over their heads for TDs. We surely aren't going to run it into a concrete wall when we can throw over and around it.

Pandora's box has been opened and we aren't returning to 3 yards and a cloud of dust. I still think the key is eliminating the busted coverages. We do that this year and we are holding teams to under 20 points. We do that and we're OK with the kind of offense we've settled into.
 

4Q Basket Case

FB|BB Moderator
Nov 8, 2004
6,579
4,110
237
Tuscaloosa
As long as we continue to be a quick strike scoring offense, we'll inevitably give up more points.

The alternative is to try to be more balanced, which we thought we'd be this year. Yet, when teams load up to stop the run we throw it over their heads for TDs. We surely aren't going to run it into a concrete wall when we can throw over and around it.

.....I still think the key is eliminating the busted coverages. We do that this year and we are holding teams to under 20 points. We do that and we're OK with the kind of offense we've settled into.
Wholeheartedly agree on all points.

Regarding our offense: I think teams will load up to stop the run, and make us beat them passing. Which, so far, we've done. The question is, since we've been doing this for a couple of years now, when will they stop cheating DBs up in run support? Or will they at all?

The reason to stop stacking the line is obvious -- we've shown time and again that we will beat them passing.

The reason to keep stacking the line comes back to picking a poison. If they don't stack the line, we make yards running. Which opens up passing. So you get hit both ways. If you stack the line, at least you deny the clock-chewing avenue, and even if you give up lots of passing yards, you (1) get more time for your own O to score, and (2) still have the hope of something good happening for you when we pass -- interception, sack, holding penalty, quick 3-and-out, etc.

And yes, I think the D plays pretty well, except when we bust coverage, which has happened way too many times, especially on 3rd and long. Mrs. Basket Case and I have taken to calling it, "the dreaded third and long." I can't count the number of times we've given up the first down when we've had them 2nd and 15+ or 3rd and 8+.

And I'm sure I have selective memory because the mistakes stand out, but it seems an inordinate amount of the time, there's no defender within 10 yards of the receiver (often a RB) running free.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Go Bama

TiderJack

Hall of Fame
Jul 9, 2010
10,469
2,556
182
Inverness, AL
Looks like a change may be coming for Wright. Branch is getting reps with 1's
I'm assuming it is due to some of those blown coverages that some thought may have been the freshman/young guys. He had that beautiful pick 6 but if you continue to make mistakes you will find yourself watching from the sideline. I guess we will see Sat if we will be starting two TF in the secondary.
 

4Q Basket Case

FB|BB Moderator
Nov 8, 2004
6,579
4,110
237
Tuscaloosa
Looks like a change may be coming for Wright. Branch is getting reps with 1's
Interesting. Wright is clearly struggling, so I’m not surprised that someone else is getting a close look. But....

According to Jess’s depth chart, DeMarcco Hellams had been running 2nd behind Wright, with Brian Branch 3rd.

So if Branch is now getting a look at first team FS, it would mean that a TF (Branch) may have leapfrogged a sophomore (Hellams).

True, Branch has gotten rave reviews. But Lane Kiffin can confuse a 5th year senior. So if Saban feels that a TF is our best option going up against Kiffin, that makes me a bit nervous.
 

gtgilbert

All-American
Aug 12, 2011
2,062
556
137
Wow, thanks for the technical breakdown. This clearly seems to be part of the problem. It's hard to believe even an experienced LB could make those reads correctly all the time.

What would have to change/what would we give up if all the reads became presnap (in terms of which LB covers wheel routes)? I'm assuming CNS believes that would compromise something else or he would likely do it.
that's hard to answer entirely because of the variables, but let's take one example. The RB on the wheel route when Mizzou scored. Since i don't truly know the D called, I'm making some assumptions

They had no receiver on that side, with a TE lined up on the line next to the OT. RB in the backfield. On the other side, there was a TE and two WR.

Because they had two TE, we were actually in our 3-4 base for one of the few plays we used that alignment in the game.

We had three players responsible for that side coverage. Jobe, playing almost like a S since there was no WR there, Moses from ILB, and Sanders playing OLB.

At the snap, the TE releases. Sanders gets a good jam and then releases him to the next level pretty quick after dropping a few steps. That's all as it likely should be.

The RB comes downhill on the snap causing Moses to step in slightly, Sanders briefly engages the RB on what appears to be a flair into the flat. Moses sees this and then turns back inside, right as Sanders releases the RB who is going downfield. Problem is Sanders released him to, well, no one. There was a receiver coming across the formation who had gotten Moses attention also and he ends up in the flat 'covered' by Sanders, but the pass was already away anyway.

This is where I have to assume. Sometimes an OLB has the flats and Sanders would have been correct in the second pass off. Sometimes he's supposed to go with the 2nd receiver no matter what. Sometimes he's got the intermediate 4th of the field. In 2 of those cases Sanders should have been deeper and I think based on how Moses reacted toward the inside when he initially saw Sanders on the RB and Saban talking with Sanders after the play, that Sanders was supposed to stick man coverage.

The reason those options exist is because they all impact what the ILB does, and if the ILB is doing something different depending on the call, you can sometimes trick a QB into thinking the ILB flowing to the RB in the flat/wheel, but he's actually sneaking to support coverage of the underneath routes and get a pick because the ILB isn't where the QB expects.
 

4Q Basket Case

FB|BB Moderator
Nov 8, 2004
6,579
4,110
237
Tuscaloosa
that's hard to answer entirely because of the variables, but let's take one example. The RB on the wheel route when Mizzou scored. Since i don't truly know the D called, I'm making some assumptions

They had no receiver on that side, with a TE lined up on the line next to the OT. RB in the backfield. On the other side, there was a TE and two WR.

Because they had two TE, we were actually in our 3-4 base for one of the few plays we used that alignment in the game.

We had three players responsible for that side coverage. Jobe, playing almost like a S since there was no WR there, Moses from ILB, and Sanders playing OLB.

At the snap, the TE releases. Sanders gets a good jam and then releases him to the next level pretty quick after dropping a few steps. That's all as it likely should be.

The RB comes downhill on the snap causing Moses to step in slightly, Sanders briefly engages the RB on what appears to be a flair into the flat. Moses sees this and then turns back inside, right as Sanders releases the RB who is going downfield. Problem is Sanders released him to, well, no one. There was a receiver coming across the formation who had gotten Moses attention also and he ends up in the flat 'covered' by Sanders, but the pass was already away anyway.

This is where I have to assume. Sometimes an OLB has the flats and Sanders would have been correct in the second pass off. Sometimes he's supposed to go with the 2nd receiver no matter what. Sometimes he's got the intermediate 4th of the field. In 2 of those cases Sanders should have been deeper and I think based on how Moses reacted toward the inside when he initially saw Sanders on the RB and Saban talking with Sanders after the play, that Sanders was supposed to stick man coverage.

The reason those options exist is because they all impact what the ILB does, and if the ILB is doing something different depending on the call, you can sometimes trick a QB into thinking the ILB flowing to the RB in the flat/wheel, but he's actually sneaking to support coverage of the underneath routes and get a pick because the ILB isn't where the QB expects.
That is absolutely fascinating. I understand the explanation, but goodness, I wish I could recognize that sort of stuff in real time. Unfortunately, that’s beyond me.

And yeah, it does sound like Sanders‘ mistake was not realizing that, with two WRs and a TE on the other side, when he released the TE on his side to the DB, he had exhausted his deep help.

So when he released the RB to deep help a couple of seconds later, there was none to be had.

Freshman mistake, from which he will learn. My issue was that he did it again later in the game, and was stupid lucky that the RB dropped the pass.
 

TitleWave

All-American
Dec 3, 2012
2,416
255
102
Like 4Q noted, great stuff. I wouldn't know a wheel route from Ernie Wheelwright Sr., but I do know every time Najee Harris flares out, he draws skin-tight coverage (and still catches the ball better than any running back 'Bama has had maybe in forever). Opposing backs on these routes seem to draw only Golding miscommunications - and open space aplenty. Today's hybrid LBs are yesterday's Mark Barrons, so it can't (all) be that they are out-athleticized by speedier backs or freshman mistakes uber alles. Gotta be some third-year DC scheme development on display soon...

that's hard to answer entirely because of the variables, but let's take one example. The RB on the wheel route when Mizzou scored. Since i don't truly know the D called, I'm making some assumptions

They had no receiver on that side, with a TE lined up on the line next to the OT. RB in the backfield. On the other side, there was a TE and two WR.

Because they had two TE, we were actually in our 3-4 base for one of the few plays we used that alignment in the game.

We had three players responsible for that side coverage. Jobe, playing almost like a S since there was no WR there, Moses from ILB, and Sanders playing OLB.

At the snap, the TE releases. Sanders gets a good jam and then releases him to the next level pretty quick after dropping a few steps. That's all as it likely should be.

The RB comes downhill on the snap causing Moses to step in slightly, Sanders briefly engages the RB on what appears to be a flair into the flat. Moses sees this and then turns back inside, right as Sanders releases the RB who is going downfield. Problem is Sanders released him to, well, no one. There was a receiver coming across the formation who had gotten Moses attention also and he ends up in the flat 'covered' by Sanders, but the pass was already away anyway.

This is where I have to assume. Sometimes an OLB has the flats and Sanders would have been correct in the second pass off. Sometimes he's supposed to go with the 2nd receiver no matter what. Sometimes he's got the intermediate 4th of the field. In 2 of those cases Sanders should have been deeper and I think based on how Moses reacted toward the inside when he initially saw Sanders on the RB and Saban talking with Sanders after the play, that Sanders was supposed to stick man coverage.

The reason those options exist is because they all impact what the ILB does, and if the ILB is doing something different depending on the call, you can sometimes trick a QB into thinking the ILB flowing to the RB in the flat/wheel, but he's actually sneaking to support coverage of the underneath routes and get a pick because the ILB isn't where the QB expects.
 
  • Like
Reactions: FaninLA