The Tide Must Go On

If there’s anyone who was looking to bounce back this upcoming season in college football, it’s the Alabama Crimson Tide, by far. In all my years of watching them under Nick Saban, I’ve never seen them play so poorly like they did eight months ago in the national title game. As it happens each year, they lost pieces to their defense to the NFL. One guy that made a lot of headlines during the off-season was linebacker Dylan Moses. He was projected to be an All-American selection this year. His season unfortunately came to an end before it could even start. During practice last night, Dylan tore his ACL. A tough blow for a kid who was expected to have a big year for this Alabama defense.

With the departure of Mack Wilson, Dylan was expected to step in and become the leader of this entire Tide defense. He’s as read and react as they come. Good luck to anyone who wanted to run the ball in his area because it was like running into a wall. Usually, it takes linebackers at the collegiate level to put it all together and that’s exactly where Dylan is at this point. I’ve watched him develop over the years from his first year to what was going to be his Junior year. As a true freshman, he played in 11 games with two starts, recorded 30 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one interception. As When I mentioned reading and reacting up top, he first watches to see where the football will go, then he attacks. He became one of the best at stopping the run week in and week out. He’s patient and allows it all to open so he’s great at making his reads on the field. He’s a force at stopping the running attack, he can be sent on a linebacker blitz to rush the passer and even if the quarterback runs a bootleg, he’ll drop back to cover, then he’ll go after the quarterback. Dylan is a player that loves to hit in the open field. He was able to do what he did because of the defensive line that Bama had last season. They were the focus of their opposition which resulted in a lot of double teams and max protections so that allows the linebackers to move more freely. That’s exactly what a Nick Saban defense is coached to do.

Dylan went from being a situational player to a key starter and a Butkus award nominee in just one season. Is this a big loss for them? Absolutely because it’s always difficult replacing a leader, especially if he’s your guy in the middle. A middle linebacker has been known to be the quarterback of the defense. His production can’t be duplicated, but this is where other guys need to step up. Alabama struggled at times on defense. You wouldn’t have known because the offense covered up so many holes by scoring so many points. Does this move affect their chances of winning another title? Not at all. This is still a legitimate title contender. You still have Tua Tagovailoa and their offense which will get their points. However, I think their defense is under some pressure because of last year’s struggles. They gave up 4.5 yards per play, the most under Saban since he became coach. Knowing him, he won’t allow the same problems to occur twice. This is where communication and discipline really need to be front and center for them. This is where guys such as Raekwon Davis, Anfernee Jennings, Xavier McKinney and Terrell Lewis need to step up and provide that leadership especially with them being the veterans of this defense. These four will be crucial for the Crimson Tide’s defense.