Alabama Football: 2019 defense not hampered by lack of talent

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

If the Alabama football defense is not much improved in the 2019 season, it will not be because the Crimson Tide has a lack of top talent.

We don’t know who Nick Saban was talking about when he stated last season’s late slippage by Alabama football was driven by assistant coach distraction. Not only do we not know, we don’t care. It has nothing to do with the upcoming season. Also, put us in the corner of ‘Nick Saban has corrected’ the problem.

Our interest is focused on how much better the 2019 defense can be than the 2019 defense. We have a strong hunch it will be much better.

Of one thing, we are sure, lack of talent will not be an issue. The recent All-SEC teams as voted by the SEC media included nine Crimson Tide defensive players. That is one more than LSU (4) and Georgia (4) had combined.

Another measurement, not necessarily better, but different is the Sports Illustrated Top 100 players nationally. SI typically does not a good job with this annual review. We consider both lists credible.

Before discussing the lists, it should be acknowledged, the Crimson Tide defense has one major vulnerability. Last season the Crimson Tide defense was severely weakened by injury. Additionally, there was some lack of experience difficulties. Those deficiencies became painfully obvious against Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson.

What about 2019? The injury risk continues but added depth offers more ability to adjust to future injuries. There is one exception. Losing Dylan Moses to a serious injury could crush championship chances. As daunting as it would be to replace an injured Tua, an injury to Moses would be even more debilitative to the team’s championship chances. Moses led the Crimson Tide in tackles last season (86) from the Will linebacker position. In his third Tide season, he moves up to quarterback the defense at the Mike linebacker slot.

Even having to replace Quinnen Williams and Isaiah Buggs on the defensive front, Alabama football will be deeper everywhere but inside linebacker. Nowhere in the defensive depth chart is there a potentially serious weakness – except at inside linebacker. An injured Moses would be replaced by less talent, less experience and less leadership ability – at a position that demands all three.

There is talent behind Dylan on the depth chart. Getting significant playing experience for that talent should be a priority for Defensive Coordinator, Pete Golding.

In the SI Top 100 list, five of the Tide’s 10 players are on the defense. They are Xavier McKinney, Anfernee Jennings, Trevon Diggs, Raekwon Davis and Moses. Breaking down the Top 100 to a Top 50, the Crimson Tide has three defenders included. LSU, Auburn and Georgia have two each.

Notably, the SI list does not include OLB Terrell Lewis. Lewis, barring another injury, will be fully recovered by mid-season. A healthy Lewis, available for a championship run would give Alabama football another player who should rate in the Top 50 in the nation.

Top 10 Tide players, not named Tua. dark. Next

Alabama football fans will watch closely who subs for Moses in the early games. It will likely be as many as two or three players, battling to win the No. 2 Mike linebacker role for the Crimson Tide.