Alabama Football: How the Tide will replace Chris Allen

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama football has to replace a five-year veteran

When you looked at Alabama football‘s 2021 defense at the start of the year, the bright spot was having so many returning starters on defense. One of the most underrated was Chris Allen, an outside linebacker who has been with the team since 2017.

Last season, Allen led the Tide in tackles for loss and forced two fumbles. He decided to return for another year with the Tide, but it seems his season is over after a foot injury in Alabama’s opener. Allen forced another fumble on a strip-sack, but he went down on the same play.

Allen’s leadership and production will be hard to replace. He was a strength of the front seven, and Alabama football will now have to find someone else to fill in his shoes.

So, how can the Crimson Tide replace Chris Allen?

The good news is that the Tide’s other starter at outside linebacker is an elite talent. It appears that Will Anderson could be the best outside rusher Alabama football has had in the Nick Saban era. In his second year as a starter, he has already dominated against plenty of quality linemen. If he has a sophomore surge, the need to replace Allen’s production will be limited.

Also, Alabama appeared to want to rotate outside linebackers before Allen went down. Drew Sanders got some reps, and he will likely be Alabama football’s new starter at outside linebacker.

Sanders was a highly-touted recruit, but his reps were limited last year because of the depth at the position. Now is his time to prove himself as a starter.

Alabama will also have Chris Braswell add reps with Allen being hurt. Braswell is another talented depth piece for the Tide, but he will now be a key contributor in specific scenarios.

Alabama doesn’t have to worry about talent. They simply lack experience. On the bright side, outside linebacker is one of the easier positions to turn potential into production. With Anderson’s versatility, whoever plays across from him will see easier matchups. They just have to beat their man and get into the backfield.

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Allen will be hard to replace, but expect more reps from Sanders and Braswell. Their first true test will be on the road in two weeks against the Florida Gators.