Question: So What Should Bama do different on Defense

bigjue24

1st Team
Dec 2, 2009
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Okeechobee, FL
In my infinite knowledge of football and high level of coaching experience I have come to some conclusions about what the program should do moving forward as it relates to the defense, and would like to hear others thoughts when it comes to scheme and types of athletes needed to combat the overwhelming assault modern offenses are dishing out.

Seriously though it's a question alot of teams are asking, and I'm fascinated by it. Michigan moved the ball well against the vaunted OSU defense. A couple of turnovers really killed the momentum and put UM behind the 8 ball. LSU looks awful against competent offenses this year as well. Clemson has played no one at all so let's leave them out for now. UGA have looked relatively good, but how will they look after next weekend? My guess is not good. This is a total systemic meltdown on the defensive side of the ball across all of college football. What can be done?

Many have wondered here if CNS's 3/4 is dead in the water. I wouldn't go that far, but to be honest Some of the things we are seeing all over college football now were done as a direct attack against CNS's scheme. Ole Miss, Auburn, and A&M all brought in new schemes to attack Bama, and it worked. Look at the years with Johnny Foosball, Gus's sandlot crap, and Rev. Freeze's scheme. All of them attacked Bama, and this type of offense has spread out from the Big 12, Group of 5 schools, and the three mentioned above. LSU threw out their entire playbook so they could beat one team, Bama. CNS has changed offensive philosophy, but the defense hasn't changed scheme much. He did change types of players he was recruiting at certain positions. So the question is what to change?

I only see two options. One is keep the current basic scheme, but you have to have certain things to make it work. You must have a DL that can control the game. You need guys like Payne, Big Q, and Jonathan Allen. It also helps to have some edge speed guys to throw in at DE on passing downs. These are the Lewis, Williams, and Ryan Anderson's of the world. You need quality depth on the DL behind this. The point is to push the pocket from the middle.
Get straight in the QB's face. That's the best way to affect a QB. I don't think the edge rush gets it done because that QB is no longer a stationary target. The mobile QB can easily avoid the outside rush in way too many situations. Space eaters aren't enough. These guys have to get after the QB and get to him with no help from regular blitzes, and still be able to hold up against the run. The ILB's have to be fast side line to sideline guys. They have to be able to cover and react with speed to the RPO, the Rueben Foster and Rashan Evans types. The Back end of the defense doesn't have to change. This the only way to make the 3/4 work, and even then you will get gashed against elite QB's simply because of the rules. Specifically the 3 yard rule for lineman that makes it impossible for a LB and Safety to be able to read the play until several seconds have gone by. Watch any game and you will see OL wandering around 4-5 yards downfield and the QB still has the ball. It's awful. The problem with all of this is that UGA, LSU, UF, the Barn, and soon UTe all recruit at a high level. Clemson has been the real killer for Bama in my opinion. It was just one more team to have to fight with over recruits.

The other option will be tested soon in my opinion, and that is a hybrid defense. Clemson has run this well this year, but they are playing against mediocre high school teams. They are running different schemes constantly. I watched them against one team this year line up a guy at LB on one play, and the next play he was at Safety. It was wild. It was almost like they had 4 Mark Barron type players. They could go anywhere and do anything. They would cover the slot, blitz, and then play safety on the next play. It was so confusing to the already struggling OL that the QB was a dead man walking at the snap. Blitzes and coverage were constantly changing. You never knew where the next guy was coming from. It was less about beating the man in front of and more about creating chaos and indecision on the part of the OL and QB. One play the defense is lining up as a 3-2-6, then a 3-3-5, then a 2-4-5, and a then 4-2-5. Guys were subbing, but it was done more with these hybrid Safety/LB type guys. It was really interesting to watch. I will watch Clemson in the playoffs because I want to see if they try this against OK, OSU, or LSU. That will be a real test. It would bring a different way of attacking the offense to the table. Bama is predictable on defense in my opinion. Pruitt did the best job being unpredictable, but he did have a crazy level of talent in the front 7 that allowed him to get real creative and even he was knocked around at times.

The bottom line is either recruit and develop players at a crazy high level with the current scheme, or get creative. Stop reacting to the offense and start dictating to them by attacking them with schemes that change from game to game and even play to play. Make reading what you are doing presnap impossible by constantly changing how you are attacking. These modern offenses are often determining where to throw the ball before the ball is ever snapped. Take that away by not letting them know what you are doing presnap through formations and hybrid players that can be used anywhere on the field but interior DL. Not sure how this will hold up against a team that can pound the run, but the playoffs may tell us if Clemson pulls this out again.
 

NationalTitles17

Super Moderator
May 25, 2003
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On a serious note, fundamental discipline and tackling are priorities.

I'll note that I've advocating for moving somewhat away from the hybrid LB/DL and instead toward a hybrid LB/Safety. Today's substitution rules and hurry to the line and wait for the play from the sideline or quick snap it offenses dictate that defensive substitutions are at the mercy of the offense, which renders previous defensive substitution patterns instantly obsolete and has greatly curtailed one of the great strengths of Saban's defensive scheme. In a world of tight ends that can double as WRs and RBs that can as well this puts a lot of pressure on a defense that utilizes more "big and slows" vs one that is faster and slightly smaller.

Bama does utilize multiple schemes when it comes down to it. There have been a multitude of issues with injuries, misses in recruiting, and ability to learn and implement the system that complicate matters. 2017 may have made people think we can lose multiple starters to injury and still win it all - and they did just that - but that was an anomaly.

The game has changed so much in the past decade. Not only did substitution rules change the way the defense worked but also you now see the offense gets the play from the sideline and the defense has very little time to make an adjustment call. Two of the stronger parts of Saban's defenses are now often impotent - and we're just getting started.

The defensive scheme has already changed and needs to change more. There are numerous other issues to address. Some are unavoidable - with the talent Alabama recruits early departures are bound to happen. The rest must be addressed, beginning with the fundamentals.
 

AlexanderFan

Hall of Fame
Jul 23, 2004
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Every player you named is an NFL caliber athlete, that’s why the defense looks so much better with them running it. Saban has alluded to a lesser quality athlete playing defense now, which makes the misses in the recruiting trail even more painful.

Want to make the defense better? Tackle. Communicate with each other on passing routes. Do your job, don’t follow fakes like you’re still in high school. Did I mention tackle? Don’t rush by the quarterback and try to grab him, hit him and wrap him up.


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dWarriors88

All-American
Jan 4, 2009
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Misses in the recruiting game seem to really biting us in the butt. Between losing top recruits to discipline or mental cases / whatever it may be, we need the guys we invest time on the recruiting trail to pan out for us.
 

PacadermaTideUs

All-American
Dec 10, 2009
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Navarre, FL
Not sure what we should do differently going forward. But looking back, I think that losing Kirby was a bigger hit than we as Bama fans like to admit.
 

BamaBoySince89

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Aug 13, 2016
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Make a call to Belichick [emoji2377]. He seems to know how to adjust to the times I suppose, although he has a new problem in Baltimore, KC, and Houston to deal with

Seriously, I think the problem may not necessarily be the scheme but the addition of a hybrid LB/S type player sounds interesting. But also the CB position is one place where I think Bama has underachieved severely. Outside McKinney and at times Surtain, I wasn’t real impressed with the secondary. You lose good players like Fitz, Collins, Humphrey, and EJ over the years and they just haven’t looked the same back there.

However, watching the IB Saturday leads me to believe that discipline and tackling is a huge issue along with losing so much to the NFL that you haven’t given the next man up much time to gain experience. Think about the defenses of 2014-16, those guys had experience.

Secondly, the lack of a veteran defensive coordinator has really hurt us the past two years with projects such as Tosh and Golding. Whatever needs to be fixed, I’m sure Saban will take a long look at it if he hasn’t already. He’s had to make adjustments to continue winning before and I think he’ll do it again, unless he’s mentally checking out and easing towards retirement
 

bigjue24

1st Team
Dec 2, 2009
875
99
38
Okeechobee, FL
Every player you named is an NFL caliber athlete, that’s why the defense looks so much better with them running it. Saban has alluded to a lesser quality athlete playing defense now, which makes the misses in the recruiting trail even more painful.

Want to make the defense better? Tackle. Communicate with each other on passing routes. Do your job, don’t follow fakes like you’re still in high school. Did I mention tackle? Don’t rush by the quarterback and try to grab him, hit him and wrap him up.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I agree that NFL players look better running the 3/4, but if you aren’t going to get enough of them then adjust what you are doing. Skin the cat in a different way. The 3/4 may not be viable due to the number of NFL quality players needed.
 

bigjue24

1st Team
Dec 2, 2009
875
99
38
Okeechobee, FL
Every player you named is an NFL caliber athlete, that’s why the defense looks so much better with them running it. Saban has alluded to a lesser quality athlete playing defense now, which makes the misses in the recruiting trail even more painful.

Want to make the defense better? Tackle. Communicate with each other on passing routes. Do your job, don’t follow fakes like you’re still in high school. Did I mention tackle? Don’t rush by the quarterback and try to grab him, hit him and wrap him up.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I think you are on to something about lesser athletes playing defense. I think a higher percentage of elite athletes are playing offense than in the past. This means more schools are fighting over a shrinking number of players necessary to play high level defense.
 

bigjue24

1st Team
Dec 2, 2009
875
99
38
Okeechobee, FL

On a serious note, fundamental discipline and tackling are priorities.

I'll note that I've advocating for moving somewhat away from the hybrid LB/DL and instead toward a hybrid LB/Safety. Today's substitution rules and hurry to the line and wait for the play from the sideline or quick snap it offenses dictate that defensive substitutions are at the mercy of the offense, which renders previous defensive substitution patterns instantly obsolete and has greatly curtailed one of the great strengths of Saban's defensive scheme. In a world of tight ends that can double as WRs and RBs that can as well this puts a lot of pressure on a defense that utilizes more "big and slows" vs one that is faster and slightly smaller.

Bama does utilize multiple schemes when it comes down to it. There have been a multitude of issues with injuries, misses in recruiting, and ability to learn and implement the system that complicate matters. 2017 may have made people think we can lose multiple starters to injury and still win it all - and they did just that - but that was an anomaly.

The game has changed so much in the past decade. Not only did substitution rules change the way the defense worked but also you now see the offense gets the play from the sideline and the defense has very little time to make an adjustment call. Two of the stronger parts of Saban's defenses are now often impotent - and we're just getting started.

The defensive scheme has already changed and needs to change more. There are numerous other issues to address. Some are unavoidable - with the talent Alabama recruits early departures are bound to happen. The rest must be addressed, beginning with the fundamentals.
I don’t think people realize how much the HUNH has affected Saban’s defense in the area of substitution and getting calls in. The complex defense plus the lack of ability to sub in packages for certain situations or against certain personnel has dented Saban’s defense more than we realize. It was a strength in the days of huddles. Could the hybrid LB/ Safety type player make that easier?
 

NationalTitles17

Super Moderator
May 25, 2003
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I don’t think people realize how much the HUNH has affected Saban’s defense in the area of substitution and getting calls in. The complex defense plus the lack of ability to sub in packages for certain situations or against certain personnel has dented Saban’s defense more than we realize. It was a strength in the days of huddles. Could the hybrid LB/ Safety type player make that easier?
I think so, especially with a strong safety body type. The main reasons being that they are big enough to offer run support and fast enough to offer pass support and generally tend to tire less than the bigs. The move is away from specialists and toward generalists.

What is practically happening on the field is a reversion toward the substitution rules of old. Now, those rules were before my time but the rules back then favored smaller and more durable and versatile players since you couldn't just sub for packages or for tired players. Now it's the offense that dictates subs to the defense. Increased versatility and durability help the defense balance against the strengths of current offenses.
 

BamaMoon

Hall of Fame
Apr 1, 2004
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I'm not an expert, but from a very surface level two things killed us this year:

1. We didn't tackle near as well this year as we've done in the past. It was rare to see us bring down a runner in the open field in one on one battles.
In another thread I mentioned how one Barner ball carrier got past a first down marker with 5 Bama players not being able to stop him. Two things probably have led to this...

First, not being able to tackle in practice because of injuries and, second, I think we are seeing the targeting rules cause players to try to tackle more with their arms and shoulder shot rather than trying to plant their facemask in the chest and wrap up.

2. Our scheme was never learned to the extent we were comfortable on defense this year. How many times did we see our guys looking at each other with the expressions "what are we doing" OR looking to the sidelines trying to get direction WHEN THE OTHER TEAM IS SNAPPING THE BALL.

When this is happening we are "thinking" more than "reacting" and that's never a good thing in sports, no matter the sport.
 

rgw

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Sep 15, 2003
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Pick a scheme like cover-3 or quarters (cover-4) w/ an even front and make it our base defense. Simplify the roles for players so it is more plug n play and easier to learn.
 

TIDE-HSV

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Pick a scheme like cover-3 or quarters (cover-4) w/ an even front and make it our base defense. Simplify the roles for players so it is more plug n play and easier to learn.
Our use of the 3/4 has decreased so much, we're already moving in the direction of it's being our "base defense" in name only. We're also moving in the direction of lighter, more mobile players. Of course, one trade-off is the effect on tackling...
 

rgw

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Yep, but I think being in position to make a tackle is a big part of our problems over the last few years. When guys are running like a mad-man to get to the player they should've been following at the snap, bad tackles are bound to happen. I think LSU's bowling ball tailback got most of his YAC off that exact situation.
 

B1GTide

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Apr 13, 2012
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I am concerned about one thing - the lack of production from the ILB group 2 years in a row. No one at Alabama has experience coaching this group, and whatever Golding is doing is not working. And it can't be blamed on injuries or lack of experience. You had the same problem with this group in 2018, Golding's first year coaching this group. Mack and Dylan actually played worse in 2018 than they played in 2017, when they were both coached by Pruitt. So experience didn't help them play better by itself.

Yes, you have fundamental problems tackling. I don't know if something has changed - maybe the focus on creating turnovers instead of just making solid tackles has caused this. Many times I saw players grabbing for the ball instead of tackling the player. Can you do both - focus on creating turnovers and making solid tackles at the same time? If so, Alabama is missing something.
 

RammerJammer15

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Tackling and being in the right place at the right time, I can’t count the number of times our LBs have been fooled on the QB run this season.
 

B1GTide

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Yep, but I think being in position to make a tackle is a big part of our problems over the last few years. When guys are running like a mad-man to get to the player they should've been following at the snap, bad tackles are bound to happen. I think LSU's bowling ball tailback got most of his YAC off that exact situation.
That is some of it for the ILB group. If you are not in a solid position to make a tackle, you can't square up. IMO the only position group that was consistently squared up when making a tackle was your safety group.
 

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