Back in October, Alabama coach Nick Saban eventually waved the white flag.
Long enough the defensive connoisseur had seen enough. The idea that “defense wins the championship,” to Saban’s dismay, is a relic of college football’s past.
“It’s a good defense that makes a good offense,” Saban said before the win over Tennessee. “Good defense no longer defeats good offense.”
And although the six-time national champion acknowledged that reality – and molded his team into an abusive juggernaut – the Crimson Tide still
And on Monday night at the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T, the Alabama defense will take their toughest test of the high-level season out of Ohio State.
Justin Fields. Chris Olave. Preaching the tray. Garrett Wilson.
“They have a lot of weapons,” Alabama defense coordinator Pete Golding said. “This is [not] A game [where] You go in and say, “Hey, I just stopped this guy, we’re going to win the game.” It’s not like that. “
How Alabama slowed down the Buckeyes will play a key role in Monday’s result.
This is not a signature Nick Saban defense.
The dramatic offensive innings of college football has also flowed into Alabama. Take Saban’s 2011 BCS National Championship team as an example.
That season – including a 9–6 overtime loss to LSU in the “Game of the Century” – was Alabama’s top-order defenseman Stiffing. The Crimson Tide allowed Power 5 conference opponents 178.7 yards per game, 3.3 yards per game and 7.8 points per game.
This season, Alabama has given up nearly double yards (353.2 yards per game), five yards per game and 19 points per game. In eight of the 12 matches this season, the Crimson Tide gave up more yards than their average in 2011
This is less than a sign of Bama’s defensive performance and more of an indication of how the game has changed – for everyone.
“It’s not really how many yards you are,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Thursday.
“It’s about getting stops. … You can let them run the entire length of the field, but if they hit a field goal or you get turnovers along the way, good things are going to happen.”
This number reflects the aggressive ups and downs of the game. Since 2011, the national average for yards per game against Power 5 conference teams went from 376.3 yards to 403.5 in 2020. Yards per game range from 5.4 to 5.7 and scoring is over double digits – from 26 points per game to 28.98. .
“I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that college football has changed dramatically in the last 10, 12 years,” Saban said this week.
“I think the spread, the RPO, stopping downfield when the passing is caught behind the line of scrimmage, all those things have dramatically changed the style of play offensively, and it makes every part of the game Affects.
“You have to defend how you choose players to play in certain positions because the game is now a game with a much higher perimeter than it used to be before, and your plan is very dramatic to defend those kinds of changes. is.”
Although the Tide’s defense was more forgiving than it was then, it is still at the upper levels of the game. It is fifth in yards allowed (19) and yards allowed per game (5) and 17th in yards allowed per game (353.2) in the national game.
In other words, despite the yard totals, it usually requires stops.
Good, Alabama’s defense has been disappointed several times this season. Two games stand out: Oct. 10 vs. Ole Miss and the SEC championship game vs. Florida.
The 48 points that the Rebels have scored are tied with Auburn, the most the team has scored against Alabama in the Saban era. Ole Miss’ 647 yards was the most Crimson tide ever allowed. Saban and linebacker Dylan Moses protested that night as to whether Rebel coach and former Saban assistant Lane Kiffin knew his signs, something Kiffin later denied.
This week, Saban and Golding attributed the conflict to a myriad of factors.
“They were 250 yards after contact,” Golding said. “It’s hard to win at any level when you do that. I think we had 28 mental errors in that game.”
Saiban said, citing four of five new starts in the secondary and three new players on defense: “The knowledge and experience that we had was probably not what we should be able to adapt and adjust in the game and in preparation . “
Florida’s 46-point outbreak in the SEC title game allowed the second-largest Saban-coached Alabama defense. Golding lamented Alabama’s third-down performance (the Gators converted 8 of 11 opportunities), and insisted the tide should be better against Ohio State – an offense that is more explosive than both teams with Alabama struggled against.
Golding said mental errors should be “small in number”, fit the run and tackle the tide “in space”.
“You can’t give these plays to these guys,” Golding said of Bakay. “They are going to do enough contested plays because they’ve got really good players.”
For all the handwriting about those performances, the defense of Alabama over the last two months has been good. The Tide have allowed less than 300 points or fewer than 300 passing yards and fewer than five yards of play in seven of their last eight matches. In the College Football Playoff semifinal against Notre Dame, Alabama allowed just 14 points and 4.7 yards per game, though it was not as good as Golding would like on a third down (8-of-16).
The characteristics of the team added to the improvement in the game experience.
“We learn from experience what we need to do,” cornerback Patrick Sartain II said. “We’re better and every week flying around the ball, making adjustments and learning from previous games where we struggled.”
Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson agreed.
“The Ole Miss game was quick, and … I think Alabama got better because they’ve been able to play [more games], “They said.” They are a great defenseman with talent, length. They are going to make it incredibly challenging. “
Ohio State will be Alabama’s toughest challenge to date.
The Buckeyes are the highest scoring team Alabama would have faced per game (43.4 points per game), and they have rushed for more than 200 yards in their seven matches this season, the longest active FBS streak of all time. Is tied to
The sermon has driven the most recent running game, with the Buckeyes averaging 212 yards and 9.1 yards per carry in their last three encounters.
Fields, a true dual-threat quarterback – the type who has given Saban stronghold issues in the past – is one of the nation’s best. And Olave and Wilson offer him a über-talented receiving pair. Olave has taken five touchdown catches on throws of 25 or more air yards this season. Power 5. has the most tied. Sarven said Olave’s speed is a challenge: “He creates rapid isolation at the top of his routes. … that too.” Very patient and fluid on his way. “
Due to the goats’ firepower, Golding feels that turnover will be prominent.
“Ohio State averages 43. [points] – And when they don’t, it’s because they have overturned the ball, “Golding said.” It is not because people stopped them, it is because they have made a mistake. … So I think that’s an important part of this game. “
Clemson, which is in a similar talent stratosphere of Alabama, was dominated by the Buckeyes. Ohio State averaged 8.9 yards per match and finished with a total of 639 in their 49–28 win. Ohio State only rolled the ball once.
But the Buckeyes said it looks the part on the Alabama defense video.
Ohio State Center Josh Myers said, “They are the type of group that never makes a mistake about what interval they should be in.” “If they’re on the blitz, nobody messes up … I’m watching a bunch of film on them, and I don’t think I’ve seen it once.”
Kevin Wilson said: “[Our offensive line is] Along with the Alabama front Monday night is going to get its strongest test because they are the best we have seen. “
Saban and Golding praised Dey’s play-calling act, and Golding said that the mix of structures and tempo challenges the Buckeyes.
“He did a very good job combining things,” Golding said. “They do a lot of different things outside of the same personnel group.”
As Alabama’s defense changed with college football, so did his offense. The Tide are the second-highest scoring team in the country (48.2 points per game), and its change to an explosive unit has made it such that Saban’s defense is no longer asked to shut down teams. Mack Jones, Nazi Harris and Davonta Smith will likely do their part on Monday.
Still, the Tide defense faces a tough challenge. If it is to slow Ohio State down on Monday, it will come down to a number of key factors, Golding said: tackling well in space, forcing the Buckeyes to pass clearly, executing on third down And creating turnover.
Regardless of the yard, Alabama should find a bus stop.
“The important thing is what great teams do to win every week and that’s their defense,” said Kevin Wilson. “And this has been done by Coach Saban as well as anyone who has ever coached football.”