Alabama Football: Crimson Tide defense built for ‘quarter’ package

(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /

Nickel, dime, quarter, dollar packages, Alabama football can use them all. All of them have advantages for defenses in certain game situations.

Nick Saban has never been a coach to rely on the use of gimmicks to win games. At the same time, he is a coach willing to use any available tools to win big games. The most famous use of such a ‘gimmicky’ tool is the onside kick against Clemson in the January 2016 National Championship game.

Something even more novel than an onside kick could be used by Nick Saban in the 2022 season. Of the four defensive sets listed at the top of this post, one, the dollar package, featuring eight defensive backs is rarely used beyond late-game, prevent defense situations.

Throughout Nick Saban’s Alabama football career, the various nickel and dime packages have been used frequently. There is a rather unique opportunity, because of the Tide’s 2022 defensive personnel, to also effectively use quarter packages.

One reason is the Alabama Crimson Tide has at least seven defensive backs who could start for almost every other SEC team. We could restate the number to eight or more, and the claim of a wealth of secondary talent would still hold true.

Alabama Football will have nation’s best pass rush

There is another, more important reason. The four ‘other’ Crimson Tide players in a quarter package cannot be blocked by most team’s five offensive linemen. Neither Will Anderson Jr. nor Dallas Turner can be stopped without frequent double teams. If the Tide opponent uses a five-wide formation, one of the Tide’s dynamic edge rushers can be doubled, but not both. Add to the edge rusher rotation, Chris Braswell, who is predicted to have a strong season and will be fresh every snap he plays.

As good as Crimson Tide defensive backs are expected to be in 2022, secondary players can only cover for so long. The good thing for the Crimson Tide is it will have the best pass rush in college football.

Playing with seven defensive backs provides options. One defensive lineman, two edge rushers, and a linebacker can be used. Another option is an additional defensive lineman and no traditional linebacker.

The ‘quarter’ is a specialty defense and against teams with strong rushing attacks, it is not the best option. But it could be used against an offense, like Mike Leach’s  Air Raid, at Mississippi State. Arkansas played with eight defenders dropped into coverage, while beating the Bulldogs in 2020. Pac 12 teams sometimes used seven defensive back packages to slow Leach’s former Air Raid team, Washington State.

Next. The guy after the guy that follows Saban. dark

Who the seven defensive backs would be for the Crimson Tide is easy: Jordan Battle, DeMarcco Hellams, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Eli Ricks, Brian Branch, Malachi Moore and Khyree Jackson. Capable backups, Terrion Arnold and Kristian Story are also good fits for the package.