In the 2021 and 2022 Alabama football seasons, Nick Saban’s old mantra of ‘dominating the guy in front of you’ faded. Too often those Alabama football teams lost control of the line of scrimmage. For multiple reasons, after the Crimson Tide became dependent on offensive finesse, it could not consistently produce power football.
How much did the Crimson Tide slide overall? Two, last-play losses last season suggest the Tide’s slip was a trip rather than a fall. But without Bryce Young’s literal magic, the Crimson Tide would have lost at least three more games in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. By Alabama Football standards, such a result; seven losses over two seasons would have been a disaster.
Nick Saban has never expected an Alabama football team to attain perfection. Instead, he teaches and demands a relentless pursuit of it. It can be said that last season, too many players were too often short of the first step; being relentless.
Examples of the Crimson Tide’s slide last season were the Tennesee and LSU games. Yes, Alabama could have won each game, but at key points in each game, the Alabama football defense could not make stops. Much has been written about Alabama not being able to cover Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt. Less glaring but in some ways more troubling was the Tide’s defense also could not stop Tennessee’s running backs. The Vols netted a modest 182 yards on the ground, but their two running backs averaged almost 5.2 yards per carry.
Some perspective on that stat comes from Leonard Fournette’s three-season, LSU career. Fournette was one of LSU’s best-ever powerhouse running backs. In 2014-2016, his yards-per-carry average was 6.2 yards. In three games against Alabama football defenses, Fournette averaged 2.54 yards. The game has changed since. So much so, the 2023 Crimson Tide is not likely to stuff a Quinshon Judkins, as old Alabama defenses did to Fournette.
Alabama Football Rushing Defense
But the Crimson Tide in 2023 must be better than allowing SEC rushers an average of 4.13 yards as it did last season. Tough run defense can still be accomplished. Georgia allowed just 3.01 yards last season
Note: Team stats provided by cfbstats.com
From players and coaches, the offseason has been filled with one articulated goal. It is to play tough, physically dominating football. Never is an opposing player or team talked into giving up. Imposing will and making the other guy quit only takes place in battle. Soon we will see if the Alabama Crimson Tide can deliver.