Alabama Football: Third-best opposing defense may surprise

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

There is no debate that Alabama Football will face at least one outstanding regular-season defense and likely a better one in an SEC Championship game. LSU’s defense is clearly primed to field the toughest defense among Alabama Crimson Tide regular season opponents.

With a return from injury by Maason Smith, LSU’s defensive front should be fearsome. Alabama football fans may be reluctant to agree but LSU linebacker, Harold Perkins Jr. could be the nation’s best at his position. Transfer additions will have to stabilize the LSU secondary, but when ESPN ranked LSU as college football’s eighth-best defense and the third-best in the SEC, there is little room to argue.

A bit surprising in the ESPN rankings was the Texas A&M defense as No. 9 nationally and fourth-best in the SEC. The Aggies were the worst team in the SEC last season in defensive rushing yards, allowing 209 yards per game. The A&M pass defense was quite good resulting in the Aggies being No. 4 in the SEC last season in Scoring Defense. The biggest problem for last season’s defense was the A&M offense that finished No. 12 among SEC teams.

If the Bobby Petrino – Jimbo Fisher, offensive marriage does not implode, the Aggies should be better on offense. A&M has an abundance of talented athletes on both sides of the ball. With competent coaching, it is too much talent to not make for a much-improved team in 2023.

So if the Crimson Tide’s two-toughest opposing, regular season defenses will be LSU and Texas A&M, what defense is No. 3? Based on ESPN, that defense belongs to the Kentucky Wildcats. The Cats did not make ESPN’s top 10 but were listed as the equivalent (others receiving votes) No. 15 best college football defense.

Mark Stoops is highly rated as a defensive coach. The success he has achieved in Lexington is impressive. Last season the Wildcats were No. 3 in the SEC in Scoring Defense. Kentucky’s problem last season was anemic scoring, as in the lowest-scoring team in the SEC. The remedy for Stoops and the Wildcats was to lure Liam Coen back to Lexington. With NCSU transfer quarterback, Devin Leary, Coen is expected to revitalize Kentucky’s offense, thereby making a solid defense even better.

Can two more defenses cause Alabama Football problems?

Fans of the Texas Longhorns and the Tennessee Volunteers are convinced their defenses will be improved. The Vols’ rush defense was stout last season. Texas had the No. 2 Scoring Defense in the Big 12, though that conference does not compare to the defensive quality of the SEC.

Note: All team stats are provided by

How much should Alabama football fans worry about opposing defenses? Keep in mind that every week the Crimson Tide offense will battle a defense better than LSU.

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Maybe, fans of the Hogs will get a pleasant surprise in Fayetteville. Arkansas was No. 13 in the SEC last season in Scoring Defense. Sam Pittman has added 11 defensive transfers.