Tide Looks To Upgrade Pass Rush


After struggling the last two seasons rushing the passer, the Alabama staff made it a priority in this past recruiting class to find answers to their problems. The coaches and support staff watched countless hours of highlight video and scoured internet footage posted by high school staffs before coming up with a list of what they considered to be the top pass rushing recruits in the nation. The coaches then hit the road with the goal of reinvigorating the Alabama pass rush.

Mission accomplished!

With the signing of junior college defensive lineman Jarran Reed and DJ Pettway as well as five star pass rushers Da’Shawn Hand, Christian Miller, Rashaan Evans, and noseguard prospect Josh Frazier the Tide coaching staff has reinvigorated it’s defensive attack with players capable of providing the first significant pass rush since linebacker Courtney Upshaw last suited up for Alabama.

Pettway’s first go round at Alabama saw him begin his career at defensive end. Towards the end of his redshirt freshman year, the Tide’s defensive brain trust opted to stand Pettway up and moved him to its defenses “Jack” linebacker position for the final three games of the season. The results were an instant hit as Pettway was a constant presence in opposing offenses backfield. His second go round will see him starting off were he left off, as a jack linebacker. Both physically and mentally more mature than when he left Alabama, Pettway returns capable of instantly upgrading the Tide’s pass rush

Not necessarily considered a pass rushing threat, Reed brings potential benefits to the defense in another way. The 6-4 310 pound titan brings the Tide defense something it lacked last season. A player in the middle of its defense capable of forcing opposing offenses to double team him. This of course will allow Tide linebackers to flow to ball carriers without having an offensive guard instantly in their faces, or to rush the passer. So while Reed won’t likely be among the league leaders in sacks, he’ll still have an impact on who does for Alabama.

Both Miller and Evans have the potential to be great pass rushers as well as being highly efficient at dropping into pass coverage against opposing tightends and h-backs. The tall, lanky, athletic Miller could benefit from being able to redshirt this coming season. A year with torture master Scott Cochran would allow Miller to add on some much needed strength and mass while also allowing him the time to absorb Saban’s complicated defensive schemes.

With Miller being such a talented prospect, and thus likely being a three and out candidate, there is also the chance the Alabama staff will opt to use him on special teams where his size, speed and tackling ability would be a big plus to the Tide’s kick coverage units.

Evans, because of his more finished build, will likely be used on special teams to start the season. As the season goes on the hope is he’ll be able to earn playing time, if not with the second team, then in mop up duty when the Tide has a bigger lead.

Last but certainly not the least by any stretch of the imagination, is mammoth 6 foot 4 325 pound defensive tackle Josh Frazier. The Springdale, Arkansas native is considered by many to possibly be the most talented high school noseguard signee of the Saban era. While not as large as former Bama great Terrence “Mount” Cody or presently as strong as Australian Jesse Williams, Frazier is expected by many to eventually be able to be a dominate force in the middle of the Tide defense.

Without a dominate noseguard, the 3/4 defense is a neutered force, as Alabama found out this past season.  Brandon Ivory, in his first year as a starter, was unable to exert enough push on a consistent basis to regularly force the double teams necessary to free up the Tide’s middle linebackers.

Perhaps Saban’s finest recruiting effort focused on helping Alabama’s pass rush was the hiring of former Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis from Southern California just weeks after he’d accepted a job there. Davis is considered an expert at teaching 3/4 defensive line techniques, something former Tide defensive line coach Chris Rumph was not known for. Rumph was more of a teacher of the 4/3 and it showed, especially in the play of last years squad.

With the return of Davis, Ivory should benefit greatly in finally learning proper 3/4 techniques. Reed and Frazier will have the benefit of being able to learn the proper way from the beginning.

For opposing SEC quarterbacks, that could be very bad news indeed.