The Alabama football defense may have bigger problems than Pete Golding.
Against Ole Miss, the Alabama football defense was nothing short of horrible. One word can describe the Crimson Tide against Lane Kiffin’s offense – missed. As in missed tackles, missed reads, misalignments and other various mistakes.
Crimson Tide DC, Pete Golding took the brunt of the blame. Criticism of Golding was not misguided. When a defense plays so poorly, the DC should be faulted. Nick Saban, as great coaches do, assumed full responsibility for the defensive debacle. Saban even buffered Golding more, by stating play-calling was not to blame.
To Saban, the failures against Ole Miss went back to players not executing. As he also said, coaches are responsible when players fail to execute. The players are either not being taught properly or what is being asked of them is not within the range of their skill sets.
If the coaching is failing its teaching responsibility, Golding cannot be solely faulted. Other Alabama football assistants and Nick Saban are also teaching the defenders. Blame should be shared with Sal Sunseri, Freddie Roach, Charles Kelly and Karl Banks. It is hard to believe those four coaches, along with Golding and Saban are seriously deficient in their teaching abilities.
It makes more sense to argue Nick Saban’s defensive system has become less effective against the explosive offenses of the past five seasons. Alabama football critics making this argument point to not just this season’s Ole Miss game but earlier games. LSU scored 46 points on the Crimson Tide last season and Auburn rang up a similar total. The end of the 2018 season saw Clemson glide through much of the second half and still score 44 points. Do today’s college football rules allow such offensive explosions that no defensive system can shut them down?
A few more seasons must pass before that question can be answered. In the interim, Nick Saban, along with many sharp minds in the Alabama football complex, are zealously attacking all the Tide’s defensive deficiencies.
There could be another reason for the Tide’s defensive weaknesses. It might be the Crimson Tide has not recruited quite enough, championship quality defenders. Consider, the difference just two recruited linebackers might have made. Georgia’s Nakobe Dean and Tennessee’s Henry To’oto’o were high priorities for Nick Saban. Starters for rivals, either one would have helped the Tide defense. They are not the only misses over the last three or four classes.
The end result might be, despite all the tremendous talent the Alabama Crimson Tide has amassed, a few more game-changing defenders were, and are needed. An example is the defensive line, a position group needing rotating bodies to stay fresh. This season, the Tide has played six guys on the defensive line. LaBryan Ray with 11 total tackles and Phidarian Mathis with nine tackles have played pretty well. Add the other four, Tide d-line players, D.J. Dale, Justin Eboigbe, Byron Young and Christian Barmore and their 18 total tackles are fewer than Ray and Mathis. Based on the first three games, there has been nothing dominating about the Crimson Tide defensive line. Not yet having a deeper d-line rotation may be hurting the entire defense.
The point of this post is not to attack any player for failings. Nor is it to defend Pete Golding. Alabama football coaches are well-paid sports figures. Criticism is part of the territory and they do not need defending.