Alabama Football: Defense to get after quarterbacks

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football is expected to have an improved defense this season under new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. Steele’s responsibility is to restore this defense to the physical, aggressive unit that it used to be. Over the past few seasons, it has largely lacked the reckless disposition and disruptive nature of vintage Alabama defenses.

Under Kevin Steele, the Crimson Tide will streamline its defensive scheme to minimize confusion and improve communication. With so much blue-chip talent in the cupboard, Alabama doesn’t need a lot of complicated schemes or gimmicks to stop opposing offenses.

As long as this unit plays disciplined, fundamentally sound football and honors its assignments, it will be very tough to score on Bama in 2023.

In 2022, the most glaring indictment on the Alabama defense was the fact that it finished 107th nationally in turnovers forced at just 1.1 per game. For some reason, the unit just couldn’t generate takeaways last season, which helped lead to a disproportionate number of close games.

I expect to see a dramatic swing in Bama’s proficiency in forcing turnovers this year.

What are the strongest position groups on the Alabama Football defense?

As has been the case for several seasons now, Alabama will be potent on the edge. Bama has recruited the outside linebacker position better than anyone else over the past five seasons, and will have six different former 5-stars that could line up on the edge.

Junior Dallas Turner and senior Chris Braswell should lead the way, and are expected to be very effective as pass rushers. Quandarrius Robinson and Keanu Koht are veterans who will provide good depth at the position. Jihaad Campbell, who will likely start at off-ball linebacker in Bama’s base defense, is very athletic and could be used situationally as an edge rusher.

In an ideal scenario, 5-star summer enrollees Keon Keeley and Yhonzae Pierre could play their way onto the field on passing downs by the end of the season.

While this group is harassing opposing quarterbacks, the Alabama secondary will be lying in wait. After losing three starters to the NFL Draft, Bama has reloaded on the back end. This secondary is incredibly versatile and talented, and could quietly develop into the best position group on the team.

Opponents will actively avoid All-American cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, but Terrion “Ghost” Arnold and Trey Amos have drawn rave reviews in fall camp and could be playmakers on the other side.

At safety, look for freshman Caleb Downs to make a big splash. He is an incredibly fluid athlete, and is one of the most instinctive players to come out of the high school ranks in recent memory. In the slot, senior Malachi Moore is highly experienced, and has shown ballhawking tendencies in the past.

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With a fearsome pass rush and one of the nation’s top secondaries leading the way, I expect Alabama Football to wreak havoc on defense this season and force plenty of turnovers.