First-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema raised the issue at SEC spring meetings, framing it as a player safety issue and echoing an opinion voiced by Alabama's Nick Saban last season.
"Not to get on the coattails of some of the other coaches, there is a lot of truth that the way offensive philosophies are driven now, there's times where you can't get a defensive substitution in for 8, 10, 12 play drives," Bielema said. "That has an effect on safety of that student-athlete, especially the bigger defensive linemen, that is really real."
How does that saying go? "The enemy of my enemy is my friend, regardless of scumbag status?" Normally, I'd instruct Bret to not make me love him, but I don't think we are in any danger of that.
In all seriousness, this debate is one of the most important facing the game right now. Personally, I think it is a frustrating style of football to watch, but it is a completely legitimate strategy and I don't begrudge any team using it. The way that those opposing the hurry up no huddle (HUNH) offenses are framing the argument is an interesting one. By claiming this is a safety issue, they establish a legitimate path to effectively abolish the strategy all together. And in my opinion, the rebuttal offered by Malzahn doesn't hold a lot of water:
"No, I'd say that's probably more of an in-shape issue than anything else," Malzahn said.
Really, Gus? Your contention is that Alabama players, for instance, are just "out of shape"? Surely, there is a better way to defend the HUNH.
Weakest position: Defensive line
Alabama is still looking for consistency up front. The dominant players the Tide are used to having up front just haven't shown up yet. Ends Jeoffrey Pagan and Ed Stinson could have a big year, but they'll need to be consistent going forward. It helps that Stinson can play both tackle and end. Brandon Ivory has a lot of potential, but has to replace Jesse Williams at noseguard. Outside of those three, there are a lot of question marks along the line. Help is on the way with freshmen Dee Liner, Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and A'Shawn Robinson -- all ESPN 150 members -- coming in for fall camp. Still, this line has a ways to go.
I would disagree with this assessment. To me, our weakest position would be cornerback. I feel confident in Deion Belue, and I actually think Geno Smith and Cyrus Jones will excel as the next two cornerbacks, but there is less certainty about that performance than I feel for our defensive line (which I think could be one of the bests Saban has had at Bama). What do you guys think?
"The game is becoming more deadly today," the Pro Football Hall of Famer said Friday. "It's a great game. I think it's the greatest game if you like gladiators. It's the greatest game for yesteryear's gladiators. But I can see in the next 10 to maybe 20 years, society will alleviate football altogether."
No chance. Money is in charge of the game now, and there is too much of it for this kind of talk to ever gain traction. All of the interested parties will be sure to put forth enough energy to keep the game safe enough to prevent it.
A school-record nine players from Alabama were drafted in April. Lester wasn't one of them. But the former Crimson Tide safety, who had 14 interceptions and was part of two national title teams in Tuscaloosa, had a solid spring and is in the mix for the strong safety spot opposite Charles Godfrey. Lester has good size (6-1, 215 pounds) and instincts, and that championship pedigree.
Good news for Lester. He still has an uphill battle in front of him, but we wish the best of luck to him.