How much has Kane Wommack adjusted the Swarm Defense to Alabama Football?

The 'Swarm' is in for Alabama Football. How much will Kane Wommack adapt it to fit a talented Alabama Crimson Tide roster?
Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA

Spring camp for Alabama Football defensive players has been about learning and adjusting to Kane Wommack's Swarm Defense. Wommack's 4-2-5 is given credit for being aggressive, with players 'swarming' to the ball.

Much has been said about the transition for Alabama football defenders from Nick Saban's 3-4-5, to the 4-2-5. Wommack and others have explained that in terms of the defensive fronts and their many configurations, the two defensive systems are more alike than different. Most of the difference is terminology.

What may prove different in the Saban and Wommack systems, is the level of complexity in the secondary. Some gifted, former Alabama defensive backs never fully grasped Saban's complex pattern-matching system. Wommack's defenders are relied upon to make quick reads, leading to players attacking (swarming) to the ball in numbers.

In recent seasons the Alabama defense most often worked with two deep safeties. Wommack's defense may use two deep safeties, but most of the time, the Free Safety is the only guy playing deep. Having only one guy providing deep help asks more of cornerbacks, charged with keeping up with fleet receivers.

On Thursday, Kalen DeBoer stated that Alabama may be a guy or so short at defensive back and on the offensive line. The roster help at defensive back DeBoer was referring to is likely at cornerback. USC transfer Domani Jackson is Alabama's only experienced corner.

Defenses: Comparing Alabama Football to South Alabama

There are some interesting stats to compare between the Crimson Tide and the Jaguars in the 2023 season. Doing so requires ignoring that Alabama played a far tougher schedule. That fact might not be pertinent, given USA defended less talented offensive players, but did so with generally less talented defensive players.

2023 Season Opponent Long Scrimmage Plays

  • At 20+ yards gained by opponents, South Alabama was No. 17 in the FBS. Alabama was No. 82
  • At 30+ yards gained by opponents, South Alabama was No. 35 and Alabama was No. 84
  • At 40+ yards gained by opponents, South Alabama was No. 75 and Alabama was No. 42

The sample size is too small for gains of 50+ yards or longer. In the 40+ yards stat, was the difference Alabama often used two deep safeties? This much is known. Alabama was in a nickel defense about 80% of the time last season, but more than 10% of the time, Alabama used a dime secondary. Kane Wommack's use of six defensive backs was almost zero.

How will Wommack adjust to an Alabama-level of talent? Will he tweak the Swarm to use dime formations in Tuscaloosa? For two reasons, no answers will be provided in the A-Day game. The main reason is until Wommack's defense is fully installed, experiments make no sense. The other reason is a Transfer Portal addition at cornerback might allow a nickel with one deep safety to be all the Crimson Tide needs.

Note: Team stats provided by

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