Alabama Football: Irony of strong Tide defense in era when offense wins

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football has changed and based on another National Championship for the 2020 season, the change is good. There is some irony with the Crimson Tide’s changes. The 2021 defense will not just be improved from what was a good defense in 2020. It has a chance to be far better than last season.

The irony is no matter how strong a team’s defense – it just doesn’t matter as it did as recently as the Tide’s 2015 season.  The 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide National Championship team gave up an average of 276.3 yards per game. A big reason for the stinginess is it was very hard to run on the 2015 defense. Opponents managed just 2.4 yards-per-carry. The 2016 and 2017 defenses were also strong statistically but by the end of the 2018 season, it had become clear top offenses could overpower Tide defenses.

Last season’s National Champions allowed 352.2 yards per game and 3.3 rushing yards-per-carry. An All-SEC regular season in 2020 somewhat distorts the comparison but does not change the new reality of college football. Offenses have become more explosive.

Alabama Football Head Coach, Nick Saban has changed

Before Nick Saban referred to college football offensive coaches as ‘The Taliban,’ he explained how he and the game have changed.

"The game is different now, people score fast. I grew up with the idea that you play good defense, you run the ball, you control vertical field position on special teams and you’re going to win. Whoever rushes the ball for the most yards is going to win the game. You’re not going to win anything now doing that."

Nick’s key words “you’re not going to win anything now” could have been expanded to be even more direct. As in, the way 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 Alabama Football National Championships were won, no longer applies to winning championships. Defensive goals have not so much changed, but the reality of results has. Saban still wants his defenses to get off the field after third down. He does not want to give up big plays. He still believes in stuffing the run. But Saban’s expectation of results has changed.

"Nick Saban admits that his old standard for an average defense was giving up 13 points per game. That average has increased due to the new rules, so now he’s okay with giving up 19 points per game, which was best in the SEC last year."

Alabama football fans praise Nick Saban for changing as the game has changed. But Crimson Tide fans still relish a combination of an explosive offense and a suffocating defense. An average of 19 points a game is acceptable. Including in that average, an Ole Miss output of 48 points is not.

Next. Tide D-Line could be as good as was the 2015 group. dark

Most Alabama football fans think Saban was joking about the Taliban. Probably so, but maybe he was half-joking.