Alabama Football: Getting healthy in the front seven


The bye week came at a good time for Alabama football. The grind of the season has started to wear on this roster, and Alabama is particularly banged up in the defensive front seven.

Senior defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe has missed the last four games with a neck injury. Unfortunately, he is not expected to return to the field this season, per head coach Nick Saban. Eboigbe is a veteran leader on the defensive front, and was one of Alabama’s most effective defensive linemen early this season. He recorded 11 tackles and a half tackle for loss in four games. He has 59 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, and an interception in his career.

A handful of other players can use this bye week to get healthy and return to play. Senior defensive lineman DJ Dale and freshman defensive lineman Jaheim Oatis were both inactive for the Mississippi State game, and are considered day-to-day going forward. Dale is tied for third on the team with two sacks this season, and has notched 64 career tackles and five career sacks. Oatis has been a valuable contributor in his first season in Tuscaloosa, with 20 tackles and a sack in seven games.

Should DJ Dale and Jaheim Oatis miss extended time, other members of the line will have to step up. Senior Byron Young (29 tackles, two TFLs) and junior Tim Smith (11 tackles) have been major factors all year. Junior Jamil Burroughs, redshirt sophomore Jah-Marien Latham, and redshirt freshman Damon Payne Jr. should all be ready to take on increased roles.

Alabama Football: Getting thin at linebacker

Alabama has also sustained some injuries to its inside linebacker depth chart. Deontae Lawson, a major rotational piece, and Kendrick Blackshire, one of the top reserve linebackers, both missed the Mississippi State game. Lawson has been very effective in his playing opportunities, and has recorded 29 tackles so far. Blackshire, who appears to have a hand injury of some kind, has made six tackles this season.

Senior inside linebacker Jaylen Moody has dealt with injuries of his own. He led the team in tackles early this season, but was inactive against Tennessee and made just one stop against Mississippi State. For the season, he has 34 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, and two sacks.

With Demouy Kennedy already out for the season, Alabama football cannot take any more hits at inside linebacker. If Lawson and Blackshire cannot quickly return, look for redshirt freshman Ian Jackson and true freshmen Jihaad Campbell and Shawn Murphy to potentially contribute more.

Next. Bye week thoughts. dark

Alabama has been one of the best run defenses in the nation this season, currently ranking third in yards per carry allowed (2.7). Still, it has to stay healthy and maintain depth to continue this level of production. The bye week should help Alabama football get some of its key guys back in the lineup.