Defense...Defense!!! |



Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011
This week’s Sport’s Illustrated has an article on the Alabama defense, which they say could be the best ever. An offensive coordinator of an opposing team said “It’s like you’re playing a defense from the NFC South when you go against Alabama. After studying them and seeing them up close, I can honestly say they have no weakness. Their linemen are monsters. Their linebackers look like linemen. Their safeties look like linebackers. Their corners are big. All of them are incredibly fast- NFL fast. On top of that they are the most disciplined, gap-sound team I’ve ever faced, which means they’re never out of position. Saban is as good of a defensive mind as I’ve ever come across.”

Bill Oliver, the “architect” of ‘Bama’s famous 1992 defense that produced a national championship, said he “felt as if he were gazing at a work of art. Alabama doesn’t need to do anything tricky to dominate other than line up and play. I personally haven’t seen a defense with this much talent in a long loooong time. It’s a pretty bunch.”

The article tells us that Alabama has had the #1 recruiting class in the nation three times in four years and that they have 73 four or five star recruits on their roster. I’m not sure we have even one. Why are we even in the same division with such a team?

The thing I dislike the most about college football is that recruiting is vital to success and it is dominated by certain schools favored by their location and by their nature. It’s mostly large state schools in areas that produce lots of top recruits. They tend to have lower academic standards, lower tuition, larger budgets, better facilities and a better winning tradition- at least in recent years. Such schools are much better positioned to recruit in depth, which is necessary for success in this era of two platoon football, where an average of 52 players are used by each team in a game. College basketball has many more competitive teams because you only use 5 starters and 8-9 players in a typical game. You’d never have a 9th place team playing a mid-major for the national title in football.

But one virtue of the situation is that recruits are teenagers, not physically and mentally mature athletes. Some of them may have already peaked in high school: lower-rated players who are developing later may turn out to be better. Some prospects may not have the work ethic too improve . Some may get injured or get into academic or disciplinary trouble. I once asked Jim Boeheim: If a player at age 25 was an NBA starter, is it likely he was 20% of what he was going to become coming out of high school and 80% coming out of college? He agreed with that assessment. Football is also a sport where a great player in a key position can elevate the team. Auburn won last year’s national championship, (and beat Alabama along the way) thanks mostly to Cam Newton and Nick Fairly. If we ever get another Donovan McNabb and Dwight Freeney, maybe we could do the same thing.

In the meantime, I’m excited about our own defense. I love what I’m seeing from Deon Goggins. He’s incredibly quick. On one play last week he blew into the backfield , saw a runner running by him on a draw play, turned to pursue and was blocked by a big lineman. He fought past the block and actually ran down the back for a gain of only a couple of yards. I think Bromley and Crume will be a strong pair of run-stuffers. Chandler Jones is listed as a senior but per the Media Guide, he red-shirted in 2008 and played in 2009-2010 so I assume he’s a junior in terms of eligibility and we’ll have him back next year. I’ve always like Brandon Sharpe who also has another year. Everybody says good things about Micah Robinson. The line backing crew of Marquis Spruill, Dyshawn Davis and Cameron Lynch could be our best ever eventually. The Thomases will be back next year at safety, (both played as freshman in 2009). I think Keon Lyn is going to become a terrific cornerback and everything I hear about Durell Eskeridge suggests that he will do the same once he can play. And our defensive coordinator, Scott Shafer, is one of the best in the business. I believe that eventually this defense will be better than the one we had last year, maybe the bets we’ve had in the two platoon era.

I don’t know if we will ever have a defense like Alabama’s but thinking about these things as I read the article, the thought occurred that I might be reading about Syracuse’s defense someday in SI as a unit making a name for itself in it’s own right.
Nice read. I hope you don't dismiss this as a stupid question, but was that creation an original of yours or a copy and paste job from SI?
Oops - sorry. I just assumed you meant the pic, because SWC is generally acknowledged as the Board Historian. He writes great stuff like this all the time.
I meant the post he made...

Why would SI be speculating on our defense? I quoted the comments on the Alabama defesne from their article and indicated I was doing so.

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