A look at how Alabama’s defense could line up this season
The abundant got richer over the weekend as previous Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o revealed his transfer to Alabama.
To’o To’o led the Volunteers with 76 deals with and 10 stops for a loss in 2015 and is set to sign up with an already-stacked Crimson Tide front 7.
While Alabama lost Christian Barmore and Dylan Moses, it returns the rest of its protective front from last season, consisting of huge names such as Christian Harris, Will Anderson Jr. and Christopher Allen. To’o To’o will need to vanquish Jaylen Moody for the beginning inside linebacker area along with Harris. If he does, Alabama might have among its most gifted front 7s in the Nick Saban period. Here’s a take a look at a couple of methods the Tide might line up this season.
Base 3-4 plan
This development has actually ended up being rather antiquated in today’s video game however might still be made use of when Alabama takes on run-heavy offenses.
Offered Alabama’s depth on the protective line, it has a wide variety of alternatives to line up throughout the front. In the above graphic, run-stuffer D.J. Dale fills the nose guard position with veterans LaBryan Ray and Justin Eboigbe as the 2 protective ends. Phidarian Mathis and Byron Young might likewise slot in at either of the protective end positions while Tim Smith will contend with Dale at noseguard. Nevertheless, if Alabama is lining up to defend against the run, the above grouping figures to be the very best trio at the minute.
Behind the defensive line, Anderson and Allen figure to be one of the nation’s deadliest pass-rushing duos while Harris and To’o To’o provide the Tide with two athletic inside linebackers. As mentioned before, Moody could also be an option next to Harris.
Nickel 4-2-5 package
This has become Alabama’s most common defensive package as the extra defensive back provides better protection against today’s spread offenses.
As was the case with the 3-4 package, Ray, Dale and Eboigbe remain on the defensive line. However, in this formation, Anderson also drops down to the line where he essentially serves as a defensive end.
In this package, Dale would remain on the field during early downs but would likely be replaced for a better pass-rusher such as Smith during passing situations. Anderson may or may not play with his hand on the ground here, but he’s more often than not going to be tasked with pursuing the quarterback.
Harris and To’o To’o/Moody remain as the inside linebacking duo while Allen is bumped to make room for Malachi Moore at Star, the extra defensive back in the slot.
Nickel Rabbits package
When discussing Alabama’s defensive front, the word “rabbits” gets used a lot. In layman’s terms, this is the Tide’s speed grouping used primarily to guard against the pass. The “rabbits” are typically outside linebackers who drop down to play defensive end. Because the linebackers are more athletic than the linemen they are replacing, they are more adept at stopping speedier spread offensives.
In the Nickel Rabbits package, Alabama will move its defensive ends to defensive tackle while using its outside linebackers as defensive ends or “rabbits.” In the above graphic, Ray moves inside to defensive tackle with Smith as the other defensive tackle. Meanwhile, Anderson and Allen bookend the defensive front.
There’s a lot of ways Alabama can mix this up, especially with the defensive linemen it chooses. Mathis could also be a good choice here at defensive tackle where he could be paired beside either Ray or Smith. This is also a formation where Alabama can bring a fresh pass-rusher into the mix. Following A-Day, Saban said the team will try to find a role for five-star sophomore outside linebacker Chris Braswell. This could be one of those opportunities for either him or someone like Drew Sanders to come in for Allen with the sole intention of rushing the quarterback.
The big alteration from the regular Nickel package to the Rabbits grouping occurs on the defensive line. The Nickel Rabbits package still features two inside linebackers as well as the Star defensive back in the slot.
Dime Rabbits package
The Dime Rabbits package is just like the Nickel Rabbits package except with an extra defensive back on the field. That extra member of the secondary is referred to as the Money and replaces one of the two inside linebackers from the Nickel and 3-4 groupings. Once again, the idea is speed as the Money is going to be a faster player than the linebacker he’s replacing. The Dime Rabbits package is almost exclusively used in passing situations as it leaves the defense susceptible against the run.
Because the Dime Rabbits package is used to safeguard versus the pass, it makes sense to use Smith and Mathis inside as they are the Tide’s two most athletic protective linemen and can create a nice push up the middle. Anderson and Allen are the likeliest pairing as the “rabbits,” but as pointed out previously Alabama might sub in a different pass-rusher of its preference depending on what it wants in a particular situation.
The Dime Rabbits plan features just one inside linebacker. It’s likely Alabama would go with Harris in this situation due to his coverage skills. Despite posting solid numbers at Tennessee, To’o To’o earned a below-average 38.2 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus last season. Harris, a former protective back in high school, recorded a 50.7 coverage grade, while Moody earned a 61.4 coverage mark.
With only one within linebacker on the field, Brian Branch can come onto the field at the cash position. He will play in package where he can assist safeguard the slot, guard on the edge or hurry the passer.
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.