Based on fan expectations, the 2022 Alabama football defense will be improved over last season. The cornerstone of such optimism is the knowledge the Crimson Tide has college football’s best defensive player in Will Anderson Jr. Any defense returning the past season’s Nagurski winner should be strong. In the case of the Tide’s No. 31, he has a real chance to win the 2022 Heisman Trophy.
How much better must the 2022 defense be? Last season’s Tide ‘D’ was pretty good, finishing No. 7 in the FBS in Total Defense. The Scoring Defense stat was not as good, but finishing No. 18 was respectable.
Much of last season’s frustration with the Alabama football defense stemmed from the Florida game. The Gators averaged 5.7 yards-per-carry, while the Crimson Tide rushing attack managed just 3.3 yards-per-carry. The Crimson Tide won in Gainesville, but a better description is Alabama survived the Gators.
After the Florida game, came another iteration from Tide fans wanting to ‘fire Pete Golding.’ Wisely, Nick Saban makes his own hiring and firing decisions. The Crimson Tide defense improved throughout the season. It will likely need continued improvement to win a 2022 National Championship.
How much better can ’22 Alabama Football Defense be?
Nine guys that started the National Championship game are back. As we discussed in a recent post, the Crimson Tide secondary has at least seven players who would start on most SEC teams. With full recoveries from nagging injuries that hampered, DeMarcco Hellams and Malachi Moore, the Tide is deep in talent and experience. Jordan Battle is arguably the best safety in college football.
Even with the loss of Christian Harris, the Tide’s linebacking corps should be better than last season, Whether it is Jaylen Moody or Deontae Lawson that wins the spot next to Henry T, the interior linebackers will be solid. The outside linebackers will be sensational.
Given Anderson, Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell, the Tide’s QB hurries, sacks, and tackles-for-a-loss could all be up from last season.
There can be concern about the defensive line and replacing Phidarian Mathis. Between D.J. Dale, Byron Young, Tim Smith, Jamil Burroughs, Justin Eboigbe – and others, the Crimson Tide should be fine on the defensive line.
In the vein of praise from non-fans is always good, CBS ranked the best CFB front sevens. Clemson and Alabama were ranked No. 1 and No. 2. CBS picked a top five, plus five more honorable mentions. The only other SEC team selected was Georgia, as one of the honorable mentions.
Note: additional data used in this post came from Sports Reference.
If CBS is correct about the Crimson Tide front seven being the SEC’s best – another Championship run should be the result.